A – Accepting
Meaning accepting myself as autistic is the goal – the Holy Grail.
If I can accept myself as autistic wherever I go, being myself, then it’s easier for others to accept my autistic presentation, even if they don’t know the thing about me that perturbs, is autism.
Self-acceptance can bring confidence. Marginalising and othering can be easier to deal with, when I don’t believe it’s merited.
Self-acceptance takes time – decades, in my case – and is still work in progress.
B – Blinding
Meaning despite being immersed in the online autistic community since January 2020, it still took almost a year from finding the community, to stop blinding myself that being autistic isn’t a disability – it is a disability.
C – Communicating
Meaning autistics communicate differently from neurotypicals, and in my case it’s obvious.
My observation is that autistic communication is primarily governed by self-expression and what interests us, while neurotypical communication is primarily governed by being social.
I do not understand social. I do understand dialogue. My experience is that true dialogue involves compromising being social, while true sociability involves compromising meaningful dialogue.
Unless I’m able to dialogue meaningfully, I’m out of place in the neurotypical social whirl. When someone attempts small talk with me, it’s like Planet NT and Planet Autism colliding – the lack of understanding cuts both ways.
D – Deciding
Meaning neurotypicals don’t get to decide what it means to be autistic – we decide. We have decided. We know.
We have the lived experience. We’re born autistic, we live autistic, and we die autistic.
E – Experiencing
Meaning my autistic experiencing is everything to me.
The fact of everything being heightened – sensory experiencing, feelings, thoughts, intuitions – causes chaos, burning me out from the inside.
However, the pleasure of being in autistic flow, indulging my depth interest (writing), is worth the burnout which inevitably follows.
F – Feeling
Meaning I struggle with feelings. On the one hand, they’re very strong. On the other hand, I have very little spoken language to describe what I feel when wounded to the person who’s wounded me, invariably mistakenly.
Putting feelings into written words takes at least a month. Finding spoken language for feeling takes much longer.
The chaos this causes!
G – Grounding
Meaning walking grounds me – I must walk.
Without walking, the world of the sensory and movement and body experiencing is sacrificed to what’s going on inside my head.
Walking restores balance.
H – Healing
Meaning while I need healing for trauma put into me as a child by my parents and by societal discrimination against my autism, I don’t need healing for my autism – I like being autistic.
I say this, because my therapist said after 2.5 years, as if it was news – “you obviously don’t want treatment for being autistic.”
No, I don’t!
I – Ignoring
Meaning it’s absolutely essential I ignore the othering, marginalising, discriminating that can come my way, judging it not worth my time.
Society hasn’t got used to autistic expression yet – they haven’t seen enough of it. Give them more!
J – Joking
Meaning my response to those who aren’t autistic trying to ‘NTsplain’ my autism is, “You must be joking? You have no lived experience of being autistic. This explanation isn’t well done and it’s surprising it’s being done at all.”
K – Knocking
Meaning the more that we autistics are knocked down by societal privilege and oppression, the more we’ll pick ourselves up and keep going.
L – Lightening
Meaning sometimes I have to lighten the load, take it easy, because I’m stressed out, burned out, close to meltdown, or melting down, and have nothing left to give.
M – Moving
Meaning I’m learning that a writing habit, involving large parts of the day not moving, looking at a screen, makes transiting from task to task, stressful.
I can experience the Transition Time between the task ended and the task not yet started, as a place of distress.
N – Normalising
Meaning we need to normalise autistic expression, so neurotypicals get used to us
This involves them seeing as many of us as possible expressing ourselves in our autistic way, while knowing that what they’re witness is autistic expression live action in the room with them.
Normalising autistic expression takes time. It’s all process.
O – Outing
Meaning it’s so nice being out as autistic – I can move as I’m meant to, speak as I’m meant to, be as I’m meant to.
If people don’t like it, I can privately judge them not worth my time.
P – Preserving energy
Meaning when I shop, I go to a retail park, rather than to the shops in the high street, because there’s less people and more space.
This preserves my energy – or ‘bandwidth’ or ‘spoons’ – for longer.
Q – Quirking
Meaning if people are going to judge my autistic expression, I’d rather they judged me weird than quirky.
Quirky is playing at it, weird is the real deal.
R – Regulating
Meaning stimming is what I do to regulate.
Experiencing so much as heightened and intense, puts my regulation under stress – stimming, routines, depth interests and walking regulate me.
S – Stimming
Meaning the experience of finding a body movement (or stim) that regulates is lovely.
Last time I was in a shop, waiting to pay, I was swaying.
While walking around the shops, I was doing a repeated movement with my right arm which I enjoyed.
This arm movement made a comeback later that same day when I unexpectedly found a much loved and familiar episode of ‘Columbo’ on the telly.
T – Transiting
Meaning I’m learning this is a real problem for me.
Any kind of transit – getting up in the morning, getting off the sofa, getting out of the car once I’m got home is real struggle.
My autistic processing isn’t built for it.
U – Unmasking
Meaning I’m witnessing a friend unmasking – it’s a beautiful thing.
V – Validating
Meaning it matters validating and affirming autistic expression when we see it.
As a community, we get so much stick from the neurotypicals – especially those operating on the principle, ‘We want to like you but first you have to become like us’ – that validating each other’s expression is important.
W – Wellbeing Meaning my emotional well-being is something I have to look after as a highly attuned, easily impacted, easily stressed autistic.