The Wizard of Aut’s Alternative Autistic Dictionary – Edition 1

Adjusting

Meaning society understands being autistic doesn’t require a ‘treatment plan’, but society ‘reasonably adjusting’ to autistic needs.

 

Adjusting

Meaning schools understand Equality/Disability law – in Britain, the 2010 Equality Act – states it’s their duty to ‘reasonably adjust’ to autistic children, not the other way round.

Being

Meaning that being an unidentified autistic child, outnumbered by neurotypical children, was like being surrounded by aliens, with me doing my best to speak to these aliens in a fusion of their language and my language.

It’s still like that. 

Believing

Meaning, as a self-identified autistic, I expect the autistic community to believe I’m autistic when I say I am – no formal diagnosis required.

No gatekeeping in our autistic community. 

Coming out

Meaning the more people who come out as autistic, the better.  

Communicating

Meaning autistics communicate differently from neurotypicals, causing struggle between the two communities, with the name of the difference in communication being the ‘double empathy problem’.

Discerning

Meaning I’m discerning enough not to read articles about autism by neurotypicals, however ’eminent’ they are. 

Discriminating

Meaning when I come across someone who tells me autism is ‘unhealthy’ or something equally rude and shaming, I’m at liberty to say, “Nothing unhealthy about being autistic. Please don’t make derogatory, discriminatory remarks.”

Distinguishing

Meaning parents distinguish agencies which harm autistic children from agencies which help.

Harmful agencies repress the child’s autistic expression, encouraging/forcing them to adopt neurotypical expression.

Helpful agencies encourage the child’s autistic expression.

Empathising


Meaning autistics, by and large, say what we mean in compared to neurotypicals, and neurotypicals, by and large, don’t say what they mean compared to autistics. 

This meeting between direct and indirect causes the ‘Double Empathy Problem’ where the autistic community and the neurotypical community don’t understand each other, with each experiencing the other as lacking empathy. 

Neither community lacks empathy. 

Expressing

Meaning I had some pretty sticky years at school, due to not presenting like the other kids (which I now know is because I was autistic).  

What got me through was having opportunity to express my autistic nature at home. 

Forcing

Meaning agencies who overtly force autistic children’s eye-contact and speech (or covertly force, calling it ‘encouragement’) aim themselves at parents who’ve bought into the myth autistic children are essentially flawed and must be taught to be indistinguishable from neurotypical children. 

Valuable agencies encourage the child’s autistic expression rather than suppressing it. 

Functioning

Meaning functioning levels are an autism myth. Never describe autistic children in levels of functioning. They’re autistic children. 

Grounding

Meaning my being autistic can involve my sensory experiencing, feelings, thoughts, and intuitions being too heightened or intense for comfort, with it being important to ground myself. 

I’m governed by routines. Routines save me. 

Growing up

Meaning that when society grows up, it will…

– stop mistaking my autistic expression for trauma 

– stop colluding with the lie that neurotypicals know more about autism than autistics do. 

– stop getting in the way of my customising my environment, so it meets my autistic needs

– stop discriminating. 

Heightening

Meaning it’s common in the autistic community to have heightened sensory experiencing – I do.  

I hear the heating go on – my husband doesn’t. I hear him watching TV programmes through the walls.

I struggle with noise behind my back on walks, in restaurants.  

Noise cancelling headphones can be the answer. 

Hurting


Meaning being autistic can hurt. 

Meltdowns can be like unravelling into pain. 

Heightened sensory experiencing can put me on edge.  

Daily burnout can be distressing.

I like being autistic, but there’s a lot of pain in it – emotional pain in my case. 

Interesting

Meaning my depth (or special) interest is the lens through which I see the world and connect with the world. 

It gives me joy, lighting up my life, giving life brilliance. 

My depth interest is five interests combined – writing, self-work, comedy, 1:1 relating, listening/helping. 

My depth interest can variously be described as my subject, my study, my specialism, my passion, my love, my hobby. 

It is the thing that gives my life good enough meaning to persevere, despite struggle. 

Interesting

Meaning I know when something is a depth interest, because it holds so great an appeal to my imagination that I engage in it as often as I can for as long as I can, often to the exclusion of all else. I have an ongoing love affair with what interests me.

Judging

Meaning every autistic is in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet there’s nothing wrong with being autistic – the fault lies not in us but who those who judge us. 

Judging

Meaning receiving unwarranted, unasked for judgement can be part of autistic life. Best saying to the judges, I don’t want your judgement – take your judgement and eat it. 

Labelling

Meaning being autistic isn’t a label. 

Being autistic is part of my identity along with being white, genderqueer, straight, married, British, grey-haired, short. 

Are these labels or are they facts? 

My being autistic is an undisputed fact – part of my identity, not a label. 

Learning

Meaning that despite reaching my half century, I’m still learning neurotypical communication.  

I’ve got as far as deciding I won’t expect neurotypicals to become more autistic for me, if they won’t expect me to become more neurotypical for them. 

Adopting this philosophy of ‘live and let live’, I relate well enough to neurotypicals to get by as a stranger in their strange land. 

Masking

Meaning it may be a myth masking being autistic is an easier option than not masking.  

I strongly suspect the opposite is true.  

Melting

Meaning meltdowns vary from autistic to autistic.  

I experience it as an unravelling.

With some of us you see it. With others of us you don’t. 

I go to bed. You don’t see me melt down. 

Naming

Meaning ‘autistic’ is a lovely word. Everyone whose neurotype is autistic can call themselves ‘autistic’. 

Naming

Meaning it’s much easier if we, as autistic people, all call ourselves autistic, instead of making an artificial and untruthful distinction between autism and Asperger’s. 

Outnumbering

Meaning I’m outnumbered 25:1 by neurotypicals who don’t share my communication style.

That’s anxiety provoking.

Overloading

Meaning there’s no reason to describe an autistic child’s meltdown as a tantrum.  

I’d call it ‘overload’.   An autistic meltdown is rooted in us being wired in such a way that we become overloaded and melt down.

Pacing

Meaning that when I was an autistic child, I did things in my own time, at my own pace, in my own way. 

I haven’t changed.  

Prioritising

Meaning parents understand the importance of prioritising their autistic child’s depth interests – they’re not obsessions – before anything else.  

Prioritising autistic interests is the key to raising a well-rounded, happy, grounded, level-headed autistic child. 

Regulating

Meaning autistic children and adults can have heightened (or intense) experiencing, involving one or more of sensory experiencing, feeling, thinking and intuiting being highly attuned. 

This puts our regulation under stress, meaning we can burn out, melt down or shut down. 

We do what we need to do to regulate, so we don’t become dysregulated and melt down. 

It’s good for us to follow our regulation routine in peace. 

Repeating

Meaning that when I was younger, in moments of great stress, I could fall into the habit of internally saying something on repeat, because it felt like the answer to a question that was bothering me, with repetition of the answer giving me comfort. 

Except the comfort quickly turned to discomfort. 

This may be an example of autistic experiencing merging into OCD – an OCD experience expressed in an autistic way. 

If I find myself repeating a phrase, as an answer to a question, then that’s a sign my emotional and psychological wellbeing is impacted and I need to talk to someone – my therapist or a good friend. Not having someone to talk to makes it worse. 

Self-identifying

Meaning I self-identify as autistic, rejecting formal diagnosis.

If neurotypicals dismiss my self-identification, I say, “What do you know? You’re not autistic.”

If formally diagnosed autistics dismiss my self-identification, I eat them.

My life experience is I’m autistic.

Those who devalue or dispute my hard won life experience, quickly find I don’t tolerate it.

Socialising

Meaning I’m not built for neighbours.  

Happy to talk to others, but not those in the vicinity of my home.  

I’d dig a moat if I could. 

I need space from people to get the most out of them. Neighbours invade that space.

Talking

Meaning not all autistics talk, but we all communicate. Babbling and new sounds (echolalia) can precede an autistic child talking.

I went from nonspeaking to echolalia to talking. 

Tone policing

Meaning many neurotypicals, as the neuromajority, expect deference from neurominorities.  

They don’t have to know we’re from a neurominority – they can sniff divergence out, define it as less than, expecting deference. When the expected deference is not forthcoming, they tone police.   The only response to tone policing is pointing out to the policers that tone policing is oppression, an expression of privilege in its own right, and the more they police us to stop us talking, the more we’re going to talk. 

Unmasking

Meaning dropping every scrap of suppression of my autistic nature. 

Any suppression died a death, when I recognised myself as autistic six years ago. 

I’ve never been one for ‘what will people think?’ Since learning I’m autistic, my attitude has been that those don’t like my autistic expression, will have to learn to cope. 

Unravelling

Meaning melting down.

Validating

Meaning my expecting others to validate my autistic identity can be a dead end.

The only person I need to validate my being autistic, is me. 

I’m not formally diagnosed. I don’t believe it’s necessary. 

Valuing Meaning neurotypicals can call autistics narcissistic, because that’s easier than understanding our communication is valuable in its own right. 

Walking

Meaning that because my feelings, thoughts and intuitions are heightened, because that’s how my autistic nature takes me, it’s really important that I get into my body – move, be amongst nature and natural things.

Thus I go for a country walk every day – it stills my beating mind. 

Well-being Meaning the only reason my ’emotional well-being’ is as good as it is, is I’m comfortable being ‘out’ as autistic, living on the margins, underestimated, with no social group, and with a few close friends.

All alphabet images by MR1313 from Pixabay

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