The sum of my symptoms
I share my story with you in order to begin a conversation about all of the symptoms / comorbidities / problems / disorders that make us our unique autistic selves.
“The resources that exist for autistic people tend to focus on the “what,” the symptoms, the comorbidities, then prescribe various therapies. Very little focus on the why or attempt to explain that what the typical world sees as a disorder we see as a different order – a different way of being that is just as authentic and proper as any other way of living life as a human.”
So many in the autistic support industries teach masking strategies. Precious few are available to mentor us, to teach about the way in which we can best work with our minds and bodies as designed.
You can search the web and find all sorts of list of diagnostic criteria for autism. The criteria center around how we deviate from some pre-defined norm. As regards our connection to the world, our “symptoms” include distance / connection, inability to empathize, in an imaginary world, not responsive to human interaction, uncontrollable emotions / outbursts, extreme independence, no interest in playing pretend. In the previous section, I explained why these actions are not only appropriate, but necessary for our survival. The world isn’t designed for us.
What modern medicine classifies as delay in developing language skills, issues with interpersonal communication, more interest in non-verbal communication, problems with figurative expressions, and repetitive speech has more to do with the fact that we process language differently and use it differently than neuro-typicals do. As an example, what the world sees as repetitive speech autistics see as stimming, an attempt at self-regulation and self-care. Yes, I’m writing this article in English. But to me, English is my L2 – my second language. It’s a foreign language. It always will be. It just took me a little bit longer to learn it.
The diagnostic focus on hypersensitivity, obsessing over routines and activities, absence of usual behaviors, adverse to touching, cuddling, holding, and cyclical behaviors is rooted in the tragedy narrative and has more to say about the observer than the observed.
Looking at my “symptoms” independent of each other, as comorbidities, has not helped me at all. It has unnecessarily prolonged my path to understanding who I am and how I’m supposed to operate this body that I’ve been given.
“I’ve been told by doctors to be gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and all sorts of other “healthy” options. They all didn’t work. Why? First, there is no cure for the way that I am naturally – autistic.”
Second, because most doctors have less than 10 hours of nutritional education and are reading from some pamphlet that was sponsored by a group with a financial interest in keeping us in the doctor’s office.