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The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S49

Name, and/or twitter handle: Jeanne Clifton, @ActuallyAutist9

Pronouns: she/hers

Parent/non-parent: Non-parent

Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: 8

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

Very much so. I connected strongly with science fiction stories of aliens and robots who expressed feeling like an entirely different creature. I genuinely wondered if I was an android who didn’t know it after seeing the plot in various stories.


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

No, I still remember my mother crying when I was young asking “why did God curse me with an autistic child.” All three of us were autistic and autistic traits were seen as dirty and bad, which sadly led to self-harming in order to hide our stimming. I am now mostly estranged.


3. How did you determine your ethical system?

I accidentally got a double major in philosophy by taking extra classes to try to figure it out. I ended up resonating strongly with Kant which seems to be something of a theme for autistics.

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

It depends on the situation, and has changed a lot over the years. I used to mask so heavily I felt like I could never be myself and found people utterly exhausting. My work now is very accepting (my entire office attended the Actually Autistic conference held by Penn State last month) so I am more open and mask less. In past friendships and relationships I felt I was broken/wrong and tried to be what I thought was expected of me, but now my partner and friends know and love autistic me, and if someone doesn’t that’s ok, but not a reflection of my worth.

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

I do somewhat, though typos in published works are more my thing. I study historical costuming semi-professionally and it has broken me of this as almost nothing is ever actually accurate.

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

Similar interests, being ok with low-contact, chill

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

Foolish (in non-harmful ways)

Bad with money

Poor relationship choices


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

Intelligence

Good emotional intelligence for resolving any issues

Neurodivergence


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

Rent apartments in different cities for a month at a time and just explore all the different spaces without needing to rush.

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

Ability to make most choices without fear/massive concerns - able to pick my food, clothes, and living situation.

11. What does success mean to you?

Able to pay for the basics I need to be happy while doing something that I think is useful. Being a teacher doesn’t pay well but I love working with my kids so that’s more important than making money.

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

I like having someone else to live with, though I need alone time sometimes. Very happy living with my partner for 8 years now, been together for 11.

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

Not a parent, but as a teacher, yes. I don’t enjoy school social functions.

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

Pretty frequently, I need prep time to be social with most people.

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

Sensory issues, frustrations around masking/non-autistics thinking their communication is the only option.

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

Not a parent, but my younger brother was a non-speaking autistic and I was often in charge of his care. Other’s expectations/rudeness when we were out was the biggest thing for me - people lacking understanding and being cruel or saying he should be locked up rather than be allowed near “normal” people was the worst.

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

N/A

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

Somewhat - I am torn always between loving aspects of tech and finding it exhausting.

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

This is a huge interest of mine, for exteriors Palladian with Jacobean close second, for regular people houses Colonial or early Victorian, for interiors I actually taught myself to install crown molding and a chair rail and did my room in 1810s Empire style and found damaged antiques and refinished them to match. I love proportion and balance (hence why Victorian can be hit-or-miss), and a sense of grandeur and formality.

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