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;
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!