- Community Contributor
The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S53
Name, and/or twitter handle: Lauren Melissa Ellzey, @autienelle
Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: 23 years old
1. Did you feel you were different from others as a child?
As a young child, I did not feel different from others. I was happy, enjoyed playing in my own ways, and loved learning. I adored structure and routine, and I was praised by my teachers for this. Everyone in the classroom was supposed to be "friends with each other." Around age 9, I began having conflicts with other children. I found their games silly, and I was highly resistant to anything that resembled peer pressure. I started to notice that I was different. I also heard adults talking about it, too. As it would turn out, my mother says that I was always "different" and that she suspected my autism before I was even five years of age. By my teen years, I felt like a cat in a house of dogs. I felt completely different and misunderstood, and I was terrified by this realization.
2. Are your parents supportive of you as an autistic individual?
My parents did not support my differences, and I was not diagnosed until age twenty-three. When I sought my diagnosis, I didn't even tell my dad. My mom was against the assessment, but once I told them both that I had been diagnosed, they both agreed with the diagnosis. My mother said she always knew, and my father even apologized to me for the ways he had intentionally and unintentionally caused my meltdowns in the past.
3. How did you determine your ethical system?
I believe in erring on the side of love and acceptance. I came to this place after growing up conservatively and then becoming more liberal over time. I consider myself liberal now, but I don't follow that as an ethic. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe that to love others really means to humble myself and seek love and not harm. I have also always been averse to lying. They say this is oftentimes an Autism trait!
4. In which way does your private self differ from your outward facing front?
My private self sits in daydreams. She talks in a flat voice or a high-pitched voice. She dances freely, stims, and doesn't fake anything. She is also very goth! My outward facing front laughs a lot, overcompensates sometimes, and dresses more mutely. The outward me also rarely talks about her special interests or talks about them in ways that feel so restrained.
5. Do you enjoy finding mistakes/errors in the production of films and television...continuity etc.?
I do not enjoy this at all. In fact, I don't enjoy films or television. They stress me out!
6. What are the top 3 traits you look for in a friend?
In a friend, I look for loyalty, authenticity, and whimsy.
7. What are the top 3 traits you perceive as negative but are willing to overlook in a friend?
In a friend, I am willing to overlook stubbornness, impulsivity, and messiness.
8. What are the top traits you look for in a partner/traits your partner possesses?
I am a grayromantic, grayasexual, and I seek queerplatonic partners for the most part. In these partners, I look for authenticity and loyalty, as I do in friends. But I also seek reliability, patience, and open-mindedness. I am also less likely to overlook messiness!
9. What would you do with your life if you had unlimited funds?
If I had unlimited funds, I would buy a home on an island and write novels all day.
10. What does freedom mean to you. What does it entail?
Freedom for me feels like running through the stars. I don't know if I'll ever find that. But for me, freedom is something I so desperately want. I want to do what I love. I want to be my whole self. I want to feel at peace.
11. What does success mean to you?
Success for me is having security and also the time to enjoy my special interests, write fiction, and rest. I used to believe that success would be becoming a published author, and while I have now written and published a Young Adult, queer, coming-of-age novel (Boy at the Window), I see that the busy-ness tied to material success is not the ideal lifestyle I would like.
12. Are you more stable/happier/productive within the structure of a relationship...partner/good friend/long-term roommate?
I can be happy when living a structured single life or when living a structured life with a partner. I don't think that's how I measure the value of relationships.
13. Do you find it stressful to be around other parents at school functions?
I am not a parent, but as someone who has worked in education for several years, I can find it stressful to be at these sorts of functions, but at the same time, I love talking with parents of young children, especially if we have like-minded philosophies around raising children.
14. How often do you pretend to not see people you know if you don’t want to talk?
Oh, I don't do that. I think that would hurt their feelings if they noticed!
15. In which areas do you identify the most with other autistic people?
I identify the most in the areas of special interests, stimming, and speaking literally.
16. What are the most stressful aspects of parenting an autistic child as an autistic caregiver?
I am not an autistic parent or caregiver.
17. What are the top 5 things you want your children to know about the world and why?
I don't have any children, but as someone who has worked in the education and self-advocacy world, I would like children to know that (1) they have beautiful strengths that can get them through anything; (2) practicing the status quo never changed the world; (3) doing your personal best will always make you feel prouder than not trying at all; (4) it is okay to make mistakes; (5) don't avoid others' differences, lean into them.
18. Does living off the grid appeal to you and why/why not?
Yes, living off the grid appeals to me, because I think that if I could do that with financial security, and still write and connect to advocacy work, I would be the nearest to at peace as possible. The world is so loud, and the world is so often trying to get me to believe that things that don't matter to me will make me happy. I wish the world could be more quiet and more caring.
19. What is your favorite style of architecture and why?
My favorite style of architecture is perhaps Victorian-style homes.