BSL: alone, different, individual
U is for Unique
Thank you, Daisy!
It's an oft-uttered phrase in the autism community that "Once you've met one autistic/person with autism, you've met one autistic/person with autism", so much so that it's become a bit of a cliché.
But there is a lot of truth to it! We are human beings, the same as NTs, we have unique DNA (unless we're identical twins), and everyone is different (even identical twins in terms of personality). Logically it makes sense that every autistic, like every NT, is different. But people do like to put us autistics in a very restrictive set of boxes, and then when we don't fit, they insist that we cannot possibly be autistic because [insert reason here]. I have been told I cannot be autistic because I: am female, am speaking, am educated (I have a Master's degree), have a degree in English Literature (BA)/Creative Writing (MA), am married (or, previously, have a boyfriend/am engaged), was educated in a mainstream school, was diagnosed as an adult, have friends, don't have stereotypical autistic interests... The list goes on. Oh, and apparently I "don't look autistic" and the one that made me cackle most is that I'm "too pretty to be autistic". Yes, really. Sorry, guys - I'm definitely autistic! One of the purposes of this blog (among many) is to add my unique perspective to the autism world, to demonstrate that we are not all computer geeks (thanks for stereotyping me, Dad... No, I do not know anywhere near enough about computers to fix yours remotely from 200 miles away!)
And because we are all unique, every one of us has our own perspective on the world, our own abilities, our own talents and gifts, our own personality; we are all different. We are a diverse group of people, and just because we share a neurology, it does not mean we are all carbon copies of each other. We do not expect NTs to be identical and we know they are not (heck, we're very aware that animals have diverse personalities!); why then do some people expect all autistics to be the same? Perhaps it is to do with pathologisation and restrictive diagnostic criteria. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that there are certain traits that we have in common that NTs do not share. Perhaps it is to do with the human penchant for categorising everything. It's something I would be interested in exploring at some point, perhaps if/when I turn this series of blog posts into a book about autism acceptance. The more I contemplate this, the more I want to do it. As though I don't have enough to do...!
Autistics exist in all walks of life. Rich, poor, middle-class. White, black, Asian, Maori, Indian, Bulgarian, Chilean, Ghanaian... Male, female, trans, non-binary. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Baha'i, agnostic, atheist. Actor, musician, engineer, astrophysicist, writer, microbiologist, cartographer, journalist... Parent, child, sibling, cousin, neighbour... Hearing, Deaf, blind, able-bodied... Communist, socialist, centrist, centre-right, far right.
Our passionate interests cover as many things as their are existing in the world. Some are conventional, such as computers, whereas others are incredibly niche. All should be valued. We should all be valued.
I am a unique person. There is nobody in the world, never has been, never will be, identical to me. There are, have been and will be others like me in some respects - married, bisexual, Catholic, writer, female, Burnley FC supporter, hearing signer - but nobody will ever be exactly like me. Nobody will have my unique perspective on the world. Nobody will be exactly like you, or have your unique perspective on the world.
People often forget that everyone is unique when it comes to autism in a way that they don't seem to with NTs. We are as diverse as NTs. Let's celebrate our uniqueness! It makes us who we are!