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  • Community Contributor

The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S22

Name, and/or twitter handle: @AnchovyAutistic

Pronouns: he/him/his


Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: self-dx aged 60

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

Yes. I felt far closer to adults, whose conversation was so much more interesting. I felt isolated from what drove other kids. It was hard to talk to them or join their games.

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

My mother is dead, and my father has no idea. I am self-dex so late in life.

3. How did you determine your ethical system?

Sorry, one of those questions I find hard to interpret. I think fairness and equity forms the basis of my ethics. I am an atheist and so do not see the need to draw on any religious prescription. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and found the hypocricy around me really disturbing. I was a conscientious objector, refusing to serve in the apartheid army and my student activism was based on a moral objection to the inequalities in the system. My politics was libertarian socialist. In any question of ethics I think the basic question I ask is whether it is equitable and fair. So for example when thinking about the rights of trans athletes, the question I would ask would be what about the rights of female athletes?

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

I am very aware of presenting a front of sociability or cheerfulness with strangers or colleagues, and then feeling exhausted by that effort, and falling apart backstage. I do not like confrontation, so seldom voice my opinions openly, but I put on an act in public a bit. I far prefer remaining silent and listening to conversation, but when I need to I can play a part.

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

Not really. I far prefer reading the film, looking at how colour, lighting, etc adds meaning to the film. I don't usually see mistakes. Too busy trying to understand what the film-maker intended. When movies are badly made, of course spotting the sound boom creeping into the shot can be great fun.

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

I am not sure. Everyone is different, and I tend to see the good in people rather than the bad. I think loyalty is most vital, lack of judgementalism and intelligence!

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

I don't mind people who don't stay in contact. we can always pick up again. People can say and do harsh things, but if you know they don't really mean it, it's fine. I can also overlook differences of opinion. There's no need to break a friendship over silly things like religion or politics.

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

Intelligence is very important to me, someone ho can talk about important things rather than idle chit-chat. I also need someone who is loving and supportive. I struggle with day-to-dy stuff, and need someone who doesn't mind taking care of things like that. I am happy to pay the bills, but I need someone who isn't phased by having to remind me I need someone ho is demonstrative. I feel very insecure and need to be told that I am loved.

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

I have no idea. I think I'd do what I already do - teach - but ithout the worries of how to pay the bills!

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

Freedom means that I don't have to think about what I need to do next. If I know what I have to do in any situation I feel free. Uncertainty is tyrrany!

11. What does success mean to you?

Being known as a good man, someone you can depend on.

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

Yes. I am married and having someone beside me to help make my way through life is a huge relief. I am happy on my own, but I could never have accomplished raising two wonderful sons and holding my career together on my own.

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

Yes. I hate socialsiing and especially with people who are trying to impress everyone else. I made friends with a few parents, and that is different. I can relax and be myself (almost) around them because they have become friends.

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

All the time. I am a master at pretending to get a phone call, or forget something back in my office.

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

I love the way my exeperienecs are validated. I had felt as if I was a broken human being. Gearing other autistic people's experiences and being able to identify with them helps me feel like a perfect;y normal human being, an autstic person. I identify most with those who are older and late diagnosed because that is my experience. Experience of burnout connects most with me.

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

I think my kids are NT. What is most hard is having to be strong for them when every inch of you is screaming inside that you just cannot cope anymore, but you have to.

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

Try to do things that make you happy, don't worry about what others think. Hope for change and to keep fighting for change. Never be disheartened. The world is unfair and always has been. Be kind, it is never wasted. Don't be immoblised by the unfairness of the world. You are responsible or yourself and your own actions, not others' actions. I think if you follow this advice then everything else will fall into place.

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

It does appeal to me because it is the most effective way we as individuals can help combat climate change. I like creature comforts, however, and I'm not sure I can. My wife is very keen on this, and I think it's my destiny in retirment.

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

I prefer comfortable cottage-core to brutalist, That's the Romantic in me. I do like the simple lines of Scandinavian architecture though. I think it's all about context. I like the pressed ceilings and wooden floors of the Edwardian houses in Johannesburg.

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