Condition? What Condition?
I don’t have a condition, do you? I’m an autistic adult and I keep reading about my “condition”, wondering if “they” know something about myself that I’ve missed. I think I’m the expert at knowing me. Now, I read that I have a condition. Honestly, it’s insulting, demeaning, and offensive to me, but to be fair, I’m going to take an objective look at my life to see if I can find this condition “they” are talking about.
Ok, so as far as I know, I’m in working condition for the most part. I mean, I am well beyond the life expectancy of an autistic person, so my condition is not at its peak of health and vitality. Still, I am able to get around, mow the lawn (although with two teens living at home… I don’t), take walks, get groceries, clean my house, bake, rake leaves, and shovel snow. I think you get the basic idea. My body works.
The conditions I live in are fair. I live in a small home in a small town that was incorporated in 1647, and is the oldest incorporated town in Maine. I am about 3 miles from the ocean and an hour from the mountains. My home is clean, safe, and comfortable. I have a yard big enough to play a game of volley ball or dodge ball, yet small enough for my boys to mow without too much trouble. My car is also in good condition. I take care of it and it doesn’t fail me when I’m out traveling on the road.
I try to condition myself against preconceived notions – such as autism being a condition- so that I feel understood and safe enough to be myself. Try is the key word here, because it’s very difficult to do. Most of what is said about autism from non-autistic people comes from research, knowing an autistic person, or working with autistic people. True knowledge about autism can only come from authentically autistic people. We are the experts, period. I would never in my wildest imagination think I know how a person feels or manages life just because I have done research about something they struggle with, or know them, or work with them. I did that once though.
I thought because both my father and brother died of cancer, that I could empathize with people who had lost a loved one to suicide – until I lost someone to suicide. Wow, was I wrong! I couldn’t even begin to fathom what that felt like until I experienced it first hand in my own life. It’s the same with autism. No one can even begin to fathom what it feels like to be autistic unless they experience it firsthand with lived experience.
The only other condition I could think of was how I condition my environment to be at a good temperature, peaceful, visually appealing, quiet, and semi-dark. Perfect! It’s something I do for myself to ensure I have a place that I can be where the environment is not assaultive. A place where I can close my eyes and know I don’t have to be on alert and aware of what may come to cause me discomfort or pain.
My conclusion is – I have conditions and I make conditions, but I am not ‘a’ condition, and – if you are an autistic person reading this – I don’t believe you are either.