One person's perspective:

This is for anyone that finds themselves in a situation they weren't intending to end up in. For anyone that doesn't understand that autism is its own disorder. That doesn't understand that it's not like Down's Syndrome, where someone's outward appearance looks different. Autism is about the way a specific persons brain is wired, it's in their chemistry. It's in the way they think, and interpret their surroundings, however that may look like, for them. It has to do with how their brain tells the rest of their body what to do. And sometimes, sensory processing comes with it all, and that makes the whole thing so much harder. This is for anyone that wants to try to understand what my autism is like. I can't tell you how hurtful it is to be told that I should be able to do something because I'm 20, and how every other 20 year old can do that for themselves, so of course I should be able to that too, because that's how old I am. Or how normal I look, that there's no way I can have autism. Or how I should just be able to feel things like
cont'd from the newsletter: everybody else. How I don't struggle in social situations. How I seem so fine all the time. So while these are just some of the things I get told at least once a week, no one really knows what it's like to not be able to feel things for what they truly are. It's almost like my peripheral nerves trick my brain by telling it the wrong information, all the time, or not een telling it anything at all. How I can't feel anything from my chest down, or how I'm not able to feel the difference between hot and cold. That even though my legs and arms work, I can not feel them. Everything that so many people take for granted, without even thinking about, like picking out their own clothes from the store, and being able to tell for themselves the difference between hot and cold. And being able to feel how tightly they're holding onto something or if they're barely holding onto it at all. I don't expect anyone to know what it's like to live this life in my body, so don't expect me to know what it's like to be a neurotypical either, because I never will be. I should be able to live this life without having to constantly think of a snap back response to those cruel words, because if you truly knew what it was like to have autism, you would not say offensive things. So stop judging me, stop comparing me to my age, and stop saying things that are hurtful, just because you don't understand. Not everything is what it looks like, so don't expect to find something you weren't looking for when you use your judgement about something you don't really know about. This world is built in a way where you're supposed to be walking by a certain age, and speaking full sentences before you go to kindergarten. You're supposed to be driving by 16, and graduate high school by 18 and then go to college and know exactly what you're going to do and who you're going to be for the rest of your life. But what about the kids that aren't speaking by kindergarten? And the kids that need a little more help than the rest of the class. Those kids that don't show any interest in making friends, if at all or even playing with kids that are not the same age, or even have their own differences. Those same kids eventually grow up and become those same adults with autism. They don't just turn 21 and become neurotypicals. They still need to be loved, and to be treated as human. They still can become something, if you give them the chance to get there. If you exposed yourself to learning about autism, and how every single person that has it, is different. You would allow yourself to see that this isn't the same thing as something like MS or ALS, where someone who was once average starts to loose all of their abilities, and their body slowly starts locking itself in a cage from the inside out, until all that is left is their mind trying to tell their body what to do and it just stops listening. Autism is something that you either have or you don't, there's no one day you're average and the next you're not, because it has always been there. There is no specific look, you could be walking down the street, or be at a store, and you make the mistake of looking at somebody and automatically assuming that they're average. That if you ask them a question, they're going to answer you right away and interact with you as any other average person would. But what you don't know, is that they could be struggling with how bright the lights may be in that store, and all of the loud noises. And all the sensory input. They may not even speak at all. But that does not mean you get to be cruel and start screaming at them, or calling them names. I know how to see people for who they really are. I know how to accept people for whoever they want to be, because I don't judge people for being different. But I do judge people that make fun of others. I do judge bullies and anyone that tries to deny someone's differences. And I do judge people that choose not to accept someone for what makes them different. I know how to see past people, because I've always been the one that wasn't accepted, that was called names, and didn't fit in the box that this world tried so hard to create and stick everybody in. But there is no box, and there never was supposed to be. I'm always going to have to fight those people that don't take the time to truly learn about people that aren't like them, that judge others because they're different. This world is not accepting, not if you don't fit in that box that wasn't supposed to exist. But that doesn't mean I won't stop defending myself, and others that are trapped inside their bodies because they can't always figure out how to communicate what's going on in their minds. If you took a second to see the world through our eyes, I couldn't even begin to imagine what you would emotionally feel. Because you'd probably realize how damaging this world is truly making us, because this world was not made for people like me. I will not let this world or the people that choose to be cruel, stop me from trying. Because that means I can still feel some things, I can still hurt, and I haven't become hardened enough by this world to stop trying. So always choose love, and always be kind. My stripes may be different, but my heart still beats the way it should, for my body, and that will always be enough.
- Alex Blackston

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