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  • Community Contributor

The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S20

Name, and/or twitter handle: @inordinatelogic

Pronouns: she/her/they/them/y’all/we/us

Parent/non-parent: parent

Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: 40


1. Did you feel you were different from others as a child?

Yes

2. Are your parents supportive of you as an autistic individual?

No

3. How did you determine your ethical system?

I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, but one of my grandfathers also had an extremely

evangelical and charismatic cult (think speaking in tongues, etc.). I was very sensitive to

hypocrisy though, so although I believed the general philosophy was good: ‘love your neighbor,

etc.’ the practical application that I saw around me was very much lacking. I read everything I

could get my hands on and, especially once I left home, realized that the real world was quite

different from the fundamental towns I’d spent my childhood in. So, I took Biblical history

classes, psychology classes, and philosophy classes when I got to college, and I read and

talked to more people.

Essentially, my ethical system is moral and humanistic utilitarianism. By that I mean: there are

right and wrong actions, but you have to have full knowledge of a situation and the consent of

the participants to truly know what is right or wrong. It is wrong to make others’ decisions for

them. It is right to give them all necessary knowledge and freedom to make the best possible

decisions they can.

There are general best practices to follow in life: being truthful/honest, being

reliable/dependable, being fair, going beyond fair to egalitarian.

Humans are connected by a society and we owe each other our best possible efforts to support

everyone in our society in ways that allow all of us to reach our highest desired potential/ best

possible living situation.

In practice, this means that I support equal rights, egalitarian social structures, Medicaid For All,

high quality public childcare, high quality public schools, housing and shelter for all, improved

infrastructure, environmental policies that preserve nature for the future, and so much more.

I also believe that I have a responsibility to educate my children and peers, to protest, to vote,

and to take actions that will help the world achieve a better standard of living for all living things.

I have a responsibility to constantly seek information to make sure that I do minimal harm as I

move through life and that when I take actions, they are generally for the greatest good for the

most people even if many of the people in the majority don’t need additional goods or services.

To me, it is better to provide for All and serve some who don’t need it, than to provide for only a

Few and miss out on serving anyone who needs it.

4. In which way does your private self differ from your outward facing front?

I am working to do less masking. So, my outward front and private self are starting to match

more.

I still only stim in private. I am much more free to be my whole self at home with my family and I

feel fairly confident in who I am.

With folks in public, so long as I don’t have to talk to anyone, I feel like I’m basically the same.

However, when I talk to others in public, I can now feel the, “I AM FRIENDLY BE NICE TO ME

SEE I AM OKAY AND A NORMAL HUMAN PERSON LIKE YOU” smiling and fawning mask fall

over me. It’s heavier now and more exhausting, after a year of only being home and being

myself all the time.

5. Do you enjoy finding mistakes/errors in the production of films and television...continuity etc.?

Yes. Also, in books. I keep a sharp pencil or a red pen with me to mark editing mistakes in

books. It’s not 100% an enjoyment, because the errors grate on me, but it’s a sort of satisfaction

because I know that it’s corrected.

6. What are the top 3 traits you look for in a friend?

Mental Flexibility - I need to be accepted by other people for who and how I am and that

requires a certain amount of “flex”. I also like knowing that they are trying to understand me but

not trying to put an idea onto me, they’re actually listening to me and watching my actions and

understanding that I am really consistent.

Reliability - I like making plans and knowing that the plans are the plans.

Good communication skills - I love people who know that hints are okay, but facts are better.

People who don’t just assume things, but actually check to make sure. People who are good

with consent. People who are good at reading others.

7. What are the top 3 traits you perceive as negative but are willing to overlook in a friend?

Controlling - I don’t mind having someone else take the reins in planning activities so long as

they do a good job of it. Not having to be in charge of things is a relief for me at times. However,

I do have my limits. I can hang out intermittently with a person like this, but I can’t do it every

day.

Lying - some people do this, but I can overlook it if it’s in service of good or if it’s about little

things and irregular. I know that some folks do this under stress or anxiety and that some folks

do this because they mis-remember things.

Keeping me separate from their other friends. I have a few friends who only hang out with me by

ourselves and never invite me out with their other friends. Ever. I do like solo hangouts because

it’s less overwhelming. However, I like to introduce all my friends to each other. Pretty much

everyone I know in person knows each other now. There are commonalities between all of them

that go beyond the fact that they know me and I like to point those kinds of things out and see

how they interact. Some of them are not interested in being real life friends with each other and

hanging out or anything, but they are friends online and when they see each other, they can get

along and they have things to talk about.

8. What are the top traits you look for in a partner/traits your partner possesses?

My partner is also neurodivergent, but he is not phased by much of anything. He’s a very calm

and focused person and he is confident in himself. He knows who he is, he knows his value,

and he knows what he can and cannot do. He knows his weaknesses and his dislikes. He likes

learning new things and trying new things even when they don’t always turn out well, and he

isn’t phased by doing things poorly the first time and will look for ways to improve an experience

or action that will be repeated.

He is a great communicator and he loves that I just tell him things. His previous partners always

wanted him to guess how they felt or what they wanted. I also had partners like this in the past.

We both think that’s inefficient and manipulative, so we don’t do that. I just tell him what I want

and how I feel. He does the same for me. Sometimes, what we have to say to each other is

negative, but it’s very quickly out in the open and gets worked out. We don’t let things fester.

When we have a negative issue but we don’t have time/energy to deal with it right away, we

schedule a time to talk about it within 24 hours. This way we can put it aside, do the work we

need to do to run our family, and know that it will be dealt with.

My partner is very reliable. Once he has put something in his calendar or his task list, it’s going

to get done. (Of course, if it doesn’t get in there, it’s forgotten immediately, so he’s reliable within

his structure/system.)

My partner isn’t grossed out by hardly anything and a lot of racket or weird little repetitive noises

don’t bother him. Those things have made him an invaluable parenting partner. Especially as

our kids are all also neurodivergent.


9. What would you do with your life if you had unlimited funds?

I would love to buy up as much land as possible, and give it back to indigenous people to

manage it. I would love to help plant new trees and things, manage old growth, do controlled

burns, create permaculture and foraging havens. Manage wildlife. Help create sustainable

villages and infrastructure within the areas.

I would love to redo public policy in the United States and make sure that LGBTQ+,

neurodivergent, disabled, BIPOC folk, etc. all people have access to the things we need to live:

food, shelter, healthcare, education, community, employment if we need or want it, etc. I would

love for the US to be a beacon of hope again. And if that went well, I’d want the global

population to achieve similar access.

I would love to keep people from deforesting the planet and I would love to clean up the oceans

and air and soil. Climate change is scary.

10. What does freedom mean to you? What does it entail?

Freedom is a funny word. It’s contextual. We can only be free within a structure. Absolute

freedom is chaos. The idea of it gives me a weird agoraphobic-like feeling: the world is too big

and noisy, I need a smaller area in which to express my will.

Total freedom is choice-overload. Like when you go to the grocery store and there’s 100 kinds of

cereal and someone says: ‘get whatever one you want’ but you’ve never had cereal so you’re

sitting there in the aisle looking at all the colors and pictures and reading all the ingredients and

nutritional information and the stories on the back, and then hours have gone by and your brain

is full and you still have no cereal because it’s too much input.

I believe that within a moral structure, based on mutual respect and consent, based on the idea

of not doing harm to others, and the idea of contributing to society, we can be free to make

many choices for ourselves and with others.

Generally speaking: I don’t care what people do so long as everyone they’re affecting is

consenting to it.

Applied to something like cigarette smoking: Smoke in your home by yourself so long as

everyone else in the home is okay with it. Don’t smoke in public, especially around others,

because the smoke negatively affects the health and well-being of others.

11. What does success mean to you?

Success has meant different things over time. I like achieving my goals. I achieve some small

measure of success daily just by living.

As a child, I believed that success was winning. I was an aggressive academic competitor. I

achieved high grades and test scores, was top of my high school class, got lots of scholarships

and accolades, made it into the town paper, etc. But, it did not win me love or affection and it left

me feeling hollow. So, the definition had to change.

I would like to see my children grow into independent when they want to be, and yet

interdependent in that they understand that humans are part of a society, and happy adults with

their own families. That would feel like a major success to me.

12. Are you more stable/happier/productive within the structure of a relationship...partner/good friend/long-term roommate?

Yes.

13. Do you find it stressful to be around other parents at school functions?

Yes.

14. How often do you pretend to not see people you know if you don’t want

to talk?

We’re still not going out in public much due to my younger children not being able to be

vaccinated yet. However, I’ve definitely done this many times in the past.

15. In which areas do you identify the most with other autistic people?

I’m still learning a lot about being autistic. I’ve been autistic all my life, but I didn’t know and just

thought I was incredibly weird the entire time until a few years ago.

I guess, for now, I identify strongly with other late-diagnosed / self-diagnosed folks. Especially

when people share stories about things that I thought only I did and that I was ashamed of doing

or wanting to do or having done. I finally feel like a valid and not-weird person sometimes.

16. What are the most stressful aspects of parenting an autistic child as an autistic caregiver?

Internalized ableism.

External ableism.

Sensory overload. My kids create a lot of chaos: noise, touching, smells, so many questions, etc.

Concern that my child will be bullied like I was.

17. What are the top 5 things you want your children to know about the world and why?

● We are different, but different isn’t bad.

● We don’t need to be fixed.

● We need to try to understand how other people interact with the world and do our best to

manage our experiences with them.

● We can change our environment to better accommodate ourselves.


18. Does living off the grid appeal to you and why/why not?

Yes, sometimes. I like the idea of being a good citizen of nature and living without a heavy

footprint. I like the idea of growing and foraging my own food. I like the idea of having a natural

sound bath rather than all the sirens, engines, booming bass, voices, etc. that I am inundated

with in the city.

On the other hand, I really like air conditioning, hot water, electricity, not having to cook

everything, the internet, grocery stores, being able to see friends in person, access to

healthcare, etc.

19. What is your favorite style of architecture and why?

It’s hard to pick one. I like a mixture of Modern / Prairie Style/ Organic/ Vernacular/ Sky /

Biophilic

I like architecture that incorporates nature and natural elements, that looks and acts like it is part

of nature, that is informed by human history and ingenuity, but that also uses technology to

achieve . I also like construction designs that are logical and efficient. Things like incorporating

hydro, wind, and/or solar power, plants, and creating spaces that work together to achieve

climate control and maximize light in a beautiful way.

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