How is autistic pride a journey and is still a work in process?

Published and Writtten 20 June 2022 on ‘Autism Pride Day’ 18 June 2022 first to medium under ‘Unmasking Autisticly Aar Jae’

As with transphobia, homophobia, biphobia and general queer-phobia theres still a coming out story and people not feeling included and welcomed. For an autistic and neurodivergent person it’s a story we to come out as being autistic if we are ‘high masking’ our autism less visible and obvious to others. Pride is still complex issue and for many minority marginalised communities still a work in progress and why its still an endeavour of using the concept of pride empowerment of our identity to protest advocate and actively seek change for inclusivity and acceptance. Like the concept of national identity and patriotism the concept of pride in nation pride in people whether autistic (any neurodivergencies and disabilities), various racial minorities, and LGBTQIA+ people seek a pride in our identity and to be patriotic of our oppressed identity to have pride in community in the face of oppression and persecution. Like with pride movements of the LGBTQIA+ community for generations of decades of pride marches and protests many younger generations who identify as LGBTQIA+ and allies of the community are more proud of waving their pride flags than national flag. As these identities have existed throughout human history but the mainstream communities and collective cultures of minority groups of LGBTQIA+ and minority communities is still fresh and new. These communities and cultures now across the globe and more included but still othered and excluded on many listed occasions in schools, libraries, parliaments and many public spaces. Pride of LGBTQIA+ communities is more visible than before but yet still oppressed and percecuted in culture wars.
The concept of ‘Neurodivergency’ and ‘Neurodiverdiversity’ are fairly new terms and only now getting used in mainstream culture which includes an umbrella of neurotypes of autism, adhd, dyspraxia, dyslexia several more conditions that are learning difficulties, learning disabilities, neurological conditions, and mental illnesses, umbrella of conditions and neurotypes that are divergent for the socially typical neurotype. Its this perspective of autism and many co-occurring and additional diagnoses that has created like with LGBTQIA+ community a new perspective to be proud and empower those of us with neurological conditions to take a wrecking ball to ableism. For autistic people and many other disabled people we faced with the concept of eugenics that we need curing and autistic people or any disabled person may seen of lesser worth example to look at the treatment of disabled and and people with learning disabilities who had higher fatalities and death rates than other groups with unlawful un consensual do not resuscitate orders that made many autistic and disabled people afraid and still are to this day scared of contracting covid 19 and coming severely ill with the virus. Its that reason why we fight for our lives to be valued.

In pride of autism we mustn’t have proud of autism to look like pride for white, male and cis-heterosexual people. We all as a community must ensure that ‘Black Autistic Lives Matter’ and ‘All Black Lives Matter’ same of protecting ‘Autistic Trans Rights’ and ‘Autistic Trans Kids’. Want to be clear our liberation of pride, celebration and empowerment must be for all our community and not exclude people from our communities and movement. I often read that pride events of LGBTQIA+ community needs greater inclusivity of groups who are deaf, autistic, blind and with other disabilities and to asexual and aromantic people.

A lot of autistic people like being autistic but a lot of us ‘have our days’ where we struggle and things become too overwhelming where we wish to be like everyone else an uncommon feeling for many of us, its nuanced. For autism pride day this year (2022) across several platforms of social media I posted my own reflections on this day and what autism pride looks like and the challenges with it. After all if you have to mask and face ableism it’s a hard feet to climb something which I’m getting more visibly proud online but in public, well it’s a work in progress with the stigma of autism and the prejudged assumptions of what autism is with many content creators in the community express feedback given to openness of diagnoses of diagnoses that can be negative denial of diagnoses, assuming ability, speaking to us differently and pushing functioning labels. Think the taboo internalised ableism even when was a younger child didn’t want to be different and wanted to fit in when you the only one who is autistic in the class or school you aware of being an outcast, minority, the only one with little understanding of your diagnoses its reasonable to not straight up feel pride or comfort in. I find we need to be around like minded people throughout our life to unleash our autisticness.

From what described as proud and more daring moment of being autistic having anxiety and masking and what shapes me in moment of turning into adulthood ahead of fairly uncertain challenge most uncertain challenge that ahead of the sixth form prom was reluctant and less enthusiastic to attend. I was anxious I met some great people and is a great way of saying goodbye to the sameness of having my direction planned out and a small close-nit bubble of what is somewhere just around hundred across two additional years making up the catholic high school with a sixth form that is less religious. A space I was guaranteed a sense of familiarity few friendly faces from my previous compressive school small classes without the need of public transport to attend it was what worked for me. Not what felt the daunting latter the big world where its unpredictable and isolation university, employment or apprenticeships. A change at once is too much especially for someone who became to attached to the small community where little change occurs and knows everyone by name. Greatest challenge is truly being alone that’s why I struggle going outside my home without support of company.

Heading to prom before heading on coach to take us half an hour (approximately) to the venue it was something I was pleased with chatting with friends made on the way having photos truly reminding me of the friends and connections made on the way. I feel for autistic people not always feeling like you fit in you always greatly appreciative of the groups that include you. On the bus there the noisy atmosphere on the bus lead me to have a kick of anxiety a panic attack or meltdown an episode of sensory overload. I was thankful of when people sitting next to and behind me asked if I was ok reminding me to breath, and concerned what is wrong and asked whether if was anxious I appreciated that. They managed to calm me and relaxed me still shook up though when got there.

I glad I attended prom it was nice to laugh have a joke and take photos and encouraged to dance and in way of celebrating me. After all, I was elected prom king before I knew I was non-binary. I didn’t know if I had all of the votes think I heard that something I have tried to revise in my head overtime again. But it made my night and made my time at sixth form to had been given such a title and heard a peer stating she was muttering ‘I’m voting for Aaron, you voting for Aaron? to another in the line to vote being a couple people away in the line I heard and said I heard nothing but smiled it may have influenced me voting for her on this Facebook post that same person liked this post which felt affirming. I still have the pink sash from the event hanging on my bedroom door I had a certificate and lost it on the night.

I rarely stated or didn’t really verbally state my diagnoses but previous year I contacted several members of who I was in school and in sixth form with about that I’m autistic and dyspraxia and received mostly validating and positive responses. Later the end of the year just before I tried University for all but two months September 2019 same week of my birthday I was invited to attend the schools annual awards ceremony in attendance of several of my peers who were awarded varying awards for their work in their respective study fields. I was awarded the art award out of class of four quarter of a chance of that. But for the first time they introduced a memorial award in tribute to a past pupil done in partnership with that parent awarding the inaugural award as additional learning needs teacher and senior staff listed me for the award referencing ‘Aspergers’ term no longer used but wouldn’t opt myself. But for setting a good example one of the polite, consistently attending making everyone at ease and chatty with staff and peers alike. The teacher and teachers felt sense of proud in me and felt charmed. I was pleased with overcome of emotion my peers were pleased for me and for them to congratulate and celebrate the autism within me that I masked and know haven’t as always been as authentic as I could at times though-out my life but that’s finding yourself and overcoming internalised ableism. I should be proud and autistic should be proud and put yourself with people are proud of you and accept you for you.

I know if I wasn’t autistic, I might’ve turned out what is said to be like ‘everyone else’ which means I’d be a different person. I wouldn’t face the challenges of being autistic. But I know I wouldn’t be a better person and I’m better for being me. Feels corny but its its true. Would I have the same sense of humour, would I have the same sense of empathy, same sense of compassion, same sense of creativity. I don’t think I would. It can be exhausting and challenging but we drive change, create new ways of thinking I’m proud but it ain’t easy. That’s why it’s a working progress for me and the autistic community.

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Wills Word - A Williams

Wills Word - A Williams

This is a blog beyond the twittersphere where I’ll be talking about politics, power, ideas for change in how we deal with current crises.