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.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Or dating as an autist
So for January's blog post I had idea to write about something that has been on my mind lately. Yes I know what your are thinking, but trust me on this guys, this image, is a metaphor.
With a buzz going around about John Elder Robinson, new book "Be Different : The adventures of a free-rang Aspergian" which is basically comes down to: "don't be an autist be normal and shit and maybe you'll get pussy." Which is what most of the reviews seem to articulate. I wanted to put in my two cents with dating an being autistic. I want to share a few stories and share some really personal stuff.
So most of this post is gonna be kinda NSFW
One thing that I keep hearing among the community both the parent dominated "Autism community" and the autist lead "Autistic community" is the anxiety of relationships. Because most autists are cis male, most of the discussion of dating has been geared to that side of the experience. I rarely see any dating guides geared towards female autists or transgender autists. Hell, even most of the dating guides are for hetronormative relationships. I don't see people giving advice to gay men or lesbian women. From what I see with questions about people looking for girl friends on AFF or the various dialogues about parents sadden that their sons can't have typical families or whatever that means. It's apparent that us trannies, fags and cunts don't exist.
Fortunately there is this explaining the "Double Rainbow" phenomenon and touching some important intersectionality concepts. Including being queer and autistic, trans and autistic and agender/asexual and autistic. Which are topics that are almost always cut out of the discussion. As well as Autists in the kink community (another topic that never is talked about because of the context of "kink). There is a lot of topics about relationships sex and gender that are never touch because of our culture's social taboo with sex as well as another taboo. People with developmental delays/disabilities shouldn't have sex. It's something that has been asserted in media and made a joke off. The problem is that this joke is doing more harm than good and it's time realize that autistic can have healthy meaningful relationships with love ones and yes. Have sex. Lots of sex. Consentual. Adult. Sex.
Did I mention sex?
Yes their are autistics that are asexual, I have plenty of autist friends that are aromantic and asexual. That is not what I am pissed off at. They are asexual by their own merit. I don't want to say "chose" because no one chooses anything (I didn't chose to be a gay trans man), however there are asexual NTs too. The autists I know that asexual are not because they are autistic. But because that happens to be their flavor of the "rainbow." Media always inputs that an if there is an autist in any relationship, their relationship is cute and platonic and if it's sexual it's quirky and awkward an that they are a virgin (See Adam). You want to know a fact. Some autists like a rough, some like it dirty. Some like kink, some have fetishes, some are not virgins and some...are perfectly vanilla and guess what? All of them are ok, and natural. Problem is that people don't assume autistics have normal sex lives. They either group us as asexual to avoid the topic or the imagery or they make us perverts. Let us not even go into the idea that non-speaking autists are all "children" and can't consent. Because we know that is bullshit.
I am sure you can program the dynavox to say "Lets fuck like rabbits". I am sure it's been done before.
But back on a serious note. Dating is a complicated manner. I have been abused by my ex husband, abused by my former suitors and while I am going through transitioning I have been less confident in my abilities on attracting a mate. Josh ended up being a breath of fresh air. He has been loving, supportive and flexible. We do fight, argue but we make up and try to learn. He is also an autist too and like myself. There has been some communication gaps. No relationship is perfect, but we manage to sync up. Also, something else I discovered. I don't have sex with Josh...we make love. A phrase I had not much credence too. Yet after the almost nine months in our relationship, I get it now. I know what it means now. It took me a long time but, I had something I never had with my ex; something I guess I am lucky to experience.
Now remember the lube I have on the top of the essay? It is a metaphor. Relationships often have a lot of friction and complications. Teamwork, context and communication can help lubricate it. And you know what? Autists can learn it.
To finish up I want to bring something up. I am sick of the idea that NT women date aspie men because they want to fix them or find their quirkiness "cute". I feel that NT women either negate their disability or exacerbate it. Then if it fails, they are the victims. Maxine Aston often pulls this bullshit (remember the Cassandra Syndrome bull?). Aspie men are not fixer-upers. They are not children looking for a mom. Aspie women are not delicate virgins or on the other side of the table, not butch geeks with motorcycles with a devil-may-care attitude like Lizbeth Salander (I hear a rumor that she might be portrayed as asperger on the movie) or dorky animu weeboos either.
This is probably a news flash for some. But autistics are people. Human, and fallible. We have preferences, identities and needs like normal people would in relationships. We might need guidance and some help sometimes, but we can function in a relationships.