Is Autism the New Black?








As some of you may have noticed, I have a good mix of thought provoking Special Needs, Autism and .....Fashion blogs on my blog roll. That is because I like them.


I used to work in Fashion, I like collecting and wearing pretty things, and I like debating how ridiculous a new trend can be, and how much a truly beautiful pair of shoes can inspire us.
(and cheer us up, thankyou V)


I love it when the Floggies (Fashion bloggers, just made it up) visit me too.

Because it is good to get the insights of people who are outside of the special needs bubble.


But are they? More and more I am reading and hearing about people who know someone, or are related to someone, or who worked with someone who has autism. Sure even the special needs crowd are cross pollinating the trend. Nick from Downsdad told me last night of a family with a child with Downs (I'll be sketchy and discreet with the details) who have just been told the child has autism. An early diagnosis too, which is unusual.
The other little trend I am following;

(along with these delicious Chanel two tones on ebay)
Is how we might all be a little bit autistic ourselves.

Now I was an early adopter of this trend. And like my cut off capri jeans I have stuck with it; quite happy to acknowledge my Autie and more recently, Hyperactive and Obsessive Compulsive traits.
This was not embarrassing for me to admit; more of a relief really because I think it reaffirms the fact that having TWO children with autism was nobody's "fault". Just an accident of nature like chunky ankles or tiny ears, and I have both. Cannot wear gladiator sandles which does not bother me, or standard "in ear" headphones, which does. The ear bud ones are expensive!
I also came to the conclusion very early that there was a lot of autism around, on BOTH sides of the family. I do have a grown up nephew with severe autism who now lives in a residential centre.
And there are others on either side who fit the spectrum; bit of dyslexia, bit of ADHD. The usual.
Shortly after Boo was diagnosed, and my whole world including my relationships hit rock-bottom; I was steered towards an excellent book called "Aspergers Syndrome" by Tony Attwood.
While I knew that Boo was properly in the spectrum, I thought it might help me understand the lack of empathy I was experiencing - around me.
Tony, a fellow straight speaking aussie described quite plainly the genetic basis for autism.
How the extended family might be quite "quirky" shall we say, and how a parent might discover they are in the spectrum themselves.
It was a relief to see it on the page, and it helped me to understand what Aspergers means in personal relationships, and to forgive. Enough said.
But then I came to Ireland and suddenly there was this "don't mention the war" attitude to confessing your own and your significant others' autistic tendencies. There was a lot more hysteria about causes than I had experienced at home. And I found it perplexing to say the least.
But often people would sidle up to me and confess to some kind of family history of "oddness":
An uncle who as a child would never let anyone cut his hair, cousins or nephews who were late talking, or bouncing off the walls with hyperactivity while everyone denied there was a problem.
I still got the jaws on the floor look when I openly admitted that people in my family were auties; so I learned to be more discreet.
And then here we are in 2008 and I see on a special needs message board:
"are we all a little autistic"?
with a description of all the little quirks and behaviours that this honest gal feels puts her in the spectrum and there were TEN REPLIES.
I was fascinated to read that things I hadn't even considered as autistic behaviours were coming up on other people's posts. Mr Hammie and his obsessive Earlyness was in good company.
Shyness was very common, but many said they were brave as a lion professionally, great at taking on the system but unable to form new friendships and interact socially with others.
My favourite O.C.Ds were strong too; needing to hoover and wipe down counters before sitting down to relax. Washing your hands, ALOT (I have learned to use anti-bacterial gel)
It was all very refreshing. I felt like I had been to a meeting of Auties Anonymous and watched as one by one we stood up to announce " I am an autie"
So maybe to paraphrase the late great James Brown (and Jimmy Rabbit in The Commitments)
Say it Loud; I'm (Autie) and I'm Proud!
xx

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hello I am Sesame and I am an Autie.

I enjoyed reading the comments on that "are we all a little autistic" thread and couldn't believe the amount of things I could relate to that I never realised could be perceived as my little bit of autism.

- The shyness at school that turned into being the class clown (probably for social acceptance)
- the red face every time someone talked to me.
- the new neighbours that moved in next door 3 months ago that I still haven't spoken to
- hoovering upstairs first always even though downstairs is manky and I will probably have stopped hoovering by the time I get downstairs and it starts all over again.
- my insistence on everything in the press facing label out (could have come from my training in Du**es).
- the toilet roll has to hang outwards.
- the toys in the correct toy box at the end of the evening.
- my photographic memory
You get the picture!

Now the whole fasion world I have no interest in whatsoever. This could come from my 'tomboy' days. Jeans and top is me on a good day (most days am in trakkies and barefeet) yet both my sisters love to dress up and love their labels. Think you have to be into that to get it. I wouldn't know my Gucci from my Cuggi (memories of a fake watch from Canaries).

I don't do weddings for the simple fact I'm expected to 'dress up' and the few I have been to when I did got me too much attention. "Oh look you're wearing a dress and you have a bag (don't do handbags either). But just between me and you I secretely felt good and thought I looked nice. And that's all I have to say about that.

So Yes brother Rabbit I'm black and I'm proud.
Anonymous said…
hi hammie thanks again for writing this piece into your blog .it is beautifully written and does great justice to the original thread.i hope this will inspire others not to be worried about admitting they are a little bit different.there are so many more little things i could add to the list which im sure others could relate to also.you have made my week thanks again alison
Te said…
I definately believe that many people are autistic without realising it. I mean, the spectrum is so wide (is that the right term?)that it isn't surprising that two very different people could be at opposite ends..degrees? of autism. Maybe the spectrum is just...personality and emotions..just basic human development. Maybe that doesn't even make sense...I'm not sure of the ideal 'terms' but during my work placement I noticed many aspects of the emotional/social behaviour of the people I looked after which certainly could be applied to someone who otherwise appears 'normal' (to themselves and others).

I wouldn't call myself 'autistic' because it is a word which has connotations of obvious autistic traits, but I can certainly see how certain emotional qualities of mine are lesser versions of aspects of autism. Wow, I don't know how to make this make sense. I believe you are totally correct but theoretically it depends on how the spectrum is defined.
mammyvalentine said…
OMG!!! Those shoes are fab :)

Im all sorts of things! ADD, obsessive about stuff and oblivious to other stuff. I can hyper focus on one thing and not 'get' something really simple.

I used to be embarrassed by my wierdness but now I quite like it, except when im nervous or anxious and I talk and talk and talk and wave my arms about, if I catch a strange look I go back into my shell.

So whatever the hell it is I Am Im proud (and loud)!!

MammyValentine, talking to walls since the 1970.
;)
Anonymous said…
Yes Im another "think Im a bit autistic too". I love the concept that I may actually be in fashion!

Love my routine - to the point of obsession, I've a freakish memory for tiny details and dates which is handy because my other half is rubbish!. Have to run my finger over the little ledge on top of light switches when I pass them to dust them off - could do that maybe 50 times a day!! Ive real phobia of answering the phone, drives my hubbie mad (if I dont know the number displayed, I dont answer, break into a sweat if the same unfamiliar number keeps calling back - thank God for email and text!! Hate my socks on too tight or caught between my toes, hate anyone touching my bellybutton, makes me feel ill.
Most of the time I just see our house as the "Mc Autism's" on our road.
I buy the glossies every week and disappear into a bath with them and indulge in the latest bags / shoes / makeup / hairstyles around (Im the only girl in our house you see - except for the dog, but she's such a bitch!!!)

Hennie
xx
Hennie said…
Yes Im another "think Im a bit autistic too". I love the concept that I may actually be in fashion!

Love my routine - to the point of obsession, I've a freakish memory for tiny details and dates which is handy because my other half is rubbish!. Have to run my finger over the little ledge on top of light switches when I pass them to dust them off - could do that maybe 50 times a day!! Ive real phobia of answering the phone, drives my hubbie mad (if I dont know the number displayed, I dont answer, break into a sweat if the same unfamiliar number keeps calling back - thank God for email and text!! Hate my socks on too tight or caught between my toes, hate anyone touching my bellybutton, makes me feel ill.
Most of the time I just see our house as the "Mc Autism's" on our road.
I buy the glossies every week and disappear into a bath with them and indulge in the latest bags / shoes / makeup / hairstyles around (Im the only girl in our house you see - except for the dog, but she's such a bitch!!!)

Hennie
xx
Hammie said…
Brothers and Sisters Rejoice! we are not alone obviously. I am delighted that this is no longer a taboo issue. I gotta add; "coming out" has always made it easier for me to understand the Boo and Brat' and to love them for it.
So Brother Sesame, Valentine, Te, Hennie and Ali; you are welcome.
Love Hammie "the mouth from the South"
xx
mammyvalentine said…
The mouth from the south ....PMSL.

Hey Hennie im the only girl in the house apart from the cat! And I don't get Glossys anymore cos the cramps keep drawing fangs on the celebs.

MV.
Sesame said…
Hey Hennie

Repetition is another trait..
enc said…
I never thought of it this way. I bet lots of people have the traits . . .
Anonymous said…
Ha Sesame,
not repetitve on this occasion, think it was just a case of trying to post a comment and bottle feed the babs at the same time... not that I deny the repetition, not that I deny the repetition, not that I deny the repetition... hubbie calls it nagging.
It really is liberating when we can all admit to the likeness we have to the wee ones though. I find myself saying "Oh Munchie does that, but to be fair, so did I when I was young". Even have my Mum psycho-analyising herself lately and I KNOW my older brother is Aspergers (he's divorced you know - doesnt really GET people!!)

Hmmmmmm something in it?? I THINK SO!!

Hennie


PS. Im autie and Im proud
xxx
Pearl said…
Hmmm, interesting observation. I am not sure I even know exactly which traits are considered to be on the spectrum. Part of me wants to Google it and find out, part of me wants to remain in denial...
Sesame said…
I think you're right Hennie, I say, I think you're right, def something there. Am beginning to think we are the normal ones and those who don't get us have the problem.
The Seeker said…
OMG! I just come to your blog through Style On Track, thinking it was another fashion blog and I found your awesome, wonderful blog.
I'm so glad I did.
To be true I don't know people diagnosed with auti, but I think all of us have a bit of it.
My mother has alzheimer's and my academic formation is social sciencies, so it's an issue I'm very interested in.

I must congratulate you because I think you're doing such a great job.
God Bless you and keep the good work.

By the way I love those shoes!!!!!

xx
Hammie said…
Enc, Pearl and Welcome to you Ms Seeker! I don't want anyone to go lookin' for autism so step away from that search engine Pearl! I just want parents to realise that the apple didnt fall that far from the tree and that acknowledging your inner autie can help you to accept your child's foibles and respect them.
Seek whatever is "real" to you and understand that their "thing" is just as "real" to them' if ya know what I mean...
Again, welcome to all of you Floggies (this is me kneeling in obeisiance)
I AM NOT WORTHY!
xxxx
Imelda Matt said…
count me in...I obsessively TASER Yum Yum!
I just call myself systematic, detail orientated and driven - it always sounds much better in a job interview. It's only after I have the job that they find me rearranging the entire filing system!
On Track said…
Very informative and easy to read post once again, I really enjoy reading your posts they are witty, intelligent, funny, smart and very very important. I hope people do take the time to read and learn from your posts, keep up the amazing work

x from a fashion bloggie :D

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