Today was my first ASL lesson at the Stonewall Center in Columbus. I have always been interesting in learning a new language, but I have some trouble learning verbal languages as I can't process aural information easily. I could do Latin, but it was less complex than say....learning Welsh (damn those dipthongs) so I want to try to learn ASL. For many reasons, one was to converse with non-speaking people that might rely on ASL as a form of AAC another was to converse with Deaf people and learn about another culture.
Also I want to talk to my friend Jay in his language most importantly.
Perhaps those are all shitty reasons in wanting to learn sign language, but wanting to understand another culture and another perspective is why NTs often interact with autsitics and maybe that is why they struggle.
I've talked to Jay before through text conversations about disability having a disability (Deaf people don't believe to be disabled) and living in a world not quite meant for us. I have had some interesting questions from him. He works with the DD community as a caregiver so when he found out that I was autistic he was curious. He asked me:
What is your functioning level? You are not severe?
I responded back (ignoring how fucking invasive that question is)
It's complex. I have good days when I can understand what is going on and I pass as a typical person well. Then I have days when I am like "rainman" Most of the time I can pass as typical. I have to. It's over whelming and tiring.
It's interesting when I talked to him. I saw a lot of parallels with Deaf culture and the sprouting autistic culture. He empathized with me, I saw in his eyes was we talked on a sheet of paper in the coffee house one Wednesday. I really understand Jay sometimes. I am not Deaf, but I get the fact that Hearing people are just as self involved and arrogant as NTs. I get the frustration of communicating to some one that doesn't see your language as a real language. I get it. I want to get it at least. I feel so unsure around Jay and other Deaf people. I don't want to be "that guy" you know, the allies that I rant about on my blog. But I really connect with Jay. I want to continue the friendship I have with him.
But maybe this is why I am writing this post. I live in a culture that has been scattered to the four winds. We don't have a collective language to exchange ideas and thoughts with. What we have a common feeling of oppression and exclusion. What is Autistic Culture? Is the question I am asking? It's something that I have been thinking about lately as I find myself walking into the Deaf community.