Autism Awareness Month winds down. What I’d like people to be aware of is that people on the autism spectrum are everywhere and always have been – and we don’t wear a big sign that says AUTISTIC. See that 2 year old above? Serious, intense, methodical, lost in thought – she is observing the dry grass crunching under her white leather shoes. The sweater is red and the sleeves are too long. She hates the bow her mother put in her hair. She isn’t cuddly or giggly. If she is unhappy she will not cry, she’ll hide. The photo was taken by her Aunt Effie who appreciated her for the kind of kid she was. She has Asperger’s syndrome – a high functioning form of autism. She is me.
An online friend of mine once told me I couldn’t possibly be autistic because I have such a “wide emotional range”. What she didn’t understand is that autistic people are no less emotional than everyone else. We just aren’t likely to wear our hearts on our sleeve for all to see. We may not express our feelings and thoughts easily, but that doesn’t mean those thoughts and feelings don’t exist within us as strongly as in the majority population. If we are silent, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on “upstairs”. It may simply mean we have nothing we want to share with you at that particular moment. But just wait – when we do speak what we say might very well be something you need to hear.