April – Autism Awareness Month

In the International Students’ Committee, every regional representative is in charge of a portfolio as you can see when you look on our website. However, because we are fully-rounded people, also interested in our colleagues’ campaigns as well as interested in general with the issues that gravitate around them, sometimes another one of us writes or finds a more relevant article regarding a certain portfolio.

It was thanks to Lucy, the Home rep, that I decided to post about the Autism Awareness Month, because she wrote an incredibly beautiful poem to describe the Spectrum of Autism. Please read and reflect upon it:

“A Complex Portrait of Me

You might think that you know me.

You might think that because you’ve seen Rain Man or read The Curious Incident of the Cat in the Daytime you somehow understand me better than I know myself.

Well here’s the first thing you should know

You don’t.

My ASD does not define me. It’s a part of me, yes, but don’t reduce me to my diagnosis.

My diagnosis is not for you, it’s for me.  It’s my guidebook around the intricate borders of where my world meets yours.

It’s not a ticket for you to wave around, or exclaim that your social disability quota has finally been met because you know one of Those People.

My diagnosis is not for you. It’s my signpost, my guidebook, my safety net.

Don’t reduce me to my diagnosis. I am more than that. I am a brother mother sister father friend colleague pupil neighbour maybe even someone’s lover.

But more than that, and here’s something that you’ll struggle to hear:

I am not the same as every other person in every other town with ASD.

S is for Spectrum, OK?

We’re not an in/out binary tick-box of experience. We’re not an on/off lightswitch to help you classify us into your tiny restrictive boxes. We are bigger than that, more real than that.

High-functioning or low-functioning. Autism or Asperger’s. Boy or Girl. Pre-schooler or Octogenarian. Mathematician or Poet. Code-breaker or Artist. Don’t fall into the big fat bear trap of assuming that we’re all Savantic Memory Men who you can take to the Casino in an expensive suit and use and abuse for profit. We are as diverse in our number as you are.

My diagnosis is something that I may not disclose to you.

I may not want to expose myself to your judgment your constant desire to presume to assume that you know me better than I know myself because you have a big awkward label that you can stick across my face.

How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t reduce me to my diagnosis. I am more than that.

Who am I?

I am the little girl who just can’t seem to make friends.

I am the 8-year-old boy drugged up to my eyeballs because I won’t sit still in class.

I am the teenager who is staring into the world and dreaming of a relationship like any other; banging incessantly against the huge glass wall between me and the world, screaming to be some kind of Normal.

I am the colleague beside the water-cooler who never has been able to make eye-contact with you.

I am the son who wasn’t told that I had a dentist appointment this afternoon and I’m crippled by the change to my routine for the day.

I am the little boy who keeps being kicked out of school after school because they won’t take the time to understand me, but the constant change is trampling me like elephant feet until I can’t breathe.

I am the man bent double in the shopping centre because the noises and voices around me are just too much to bear.

I am the world-class musician who feels the movement of music, its own mathematics and patterns of sound, more quietly than you feel the touch of the wind.

I am the Dad at the dinner table who won’t stop talking about won’t stop talking about won’t stop talking about coins.

I am the kid in your maths class who never writes anything down because I just don’t need to.

I am the girl at the football, fastidiously collecting the information of every off-side every goal every motion to collate later in the library of my mind.

I might be the stamp-collector, the train-spotter, the code-breaker, and any other stereotype that you might somewhere along the line have assigned to me. But I am also something more.

We are the square pegs that you twist and shave and manipulate into your tiny suffocating round holes.

It is not for us to require that these square pegs fit in our world.

It is on us to challenge the perception that their different mental wiring is somehow inferior, faulty.

The square pegs in our world bring focus, intensity, a whole different level of sensory experience. They bring some of the greatest minds on our planet, and some of the warmest hearts.

This portrait will not change things. It will not mend things.

It is on us to mend the wounds of our society which is so quick to drug and shun rather than just love.

You don’t know me. But you can. Just respect my boundaries, learn my rules and ask me.”

Original source: https://lucypedrick.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/a-poem-for-autism-awareness-month/

About Ana Gabriela Popa

Ana represents all European students and societies and will be in charge of Disabled and Dyslexic students portfolio.

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