Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Because we shouldn't have to

There is a scene in xmen 2 that illustrates an issue with people with disabilities particularly those with Asperger's. Night crawler says to Mystique "They say you can imitate anyone. Even their voice" Mystique replies in the afermative to which night crawler responds. "Then why not stay in disguise all the time? You know — look like everyone else?" Mystique replies. "Because we shouldn’t have to".

Visible traits of Asperger's generally get one labeled "stupid", "lazy", "weird", and such. Generally such traits are not seen by the general public as the product of a disability. Due to the negative social repercussions of such autistic traits. Many people with Asperger's have sought to hide, eleminate, or change their traits to make them appear more normal. Also, past treatments for autism have sought to make the autistic person seem as normal as possible .The fact of the mater is, we aren't "normal". So we shouldn't have to change or hide things to approximate normalcy.

Slowly I have begun to care less about what people think about my visible autistic traits. There are those traits that I can't do much about because they are neurological. But there are those which I can change and many do. But I shouldn't have to change them in order to appear more normal.

Stimming is a great example of this. The classical autistic stims are hand/finger flapping and rocking back and forth. Stims are nothing more than "nervous habit", they just present differently than they do in neurotypicals. Additionally, a classical autistic stim may fill a need that something else can't. Many people with Asperger's have traded in their preferred stim for a more socially acceptable one. I have decided not to do that. If people think it's weird that I am flapping my hands/fingers, too bad. That said, I am still somewhat self conscious about stimming, but less so that in the past. If someone inquires about the hand flapping, I can always explain it.

I also have have motor tics. These can be as mild as some simple facial tics, to my head jerking around. There isn't much I can do to stop the tics, so there isn't any point worrying about what people are going to think about it. The anxiety and mental energy expenditure from worrying about it is not worth it.

Ultimately we should strive for a society that is more accepting of people who are different. For now visible traits of autism can have negative social repercussions. But I have decided not to to hide or change them, simply "Because we shouldn’t have to".

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