Read Cheetah-Chottah Press’ post here:
I’m here, I am weird. Get used to it. So I address myself by an unusual nickname that involves a number. I like numbers. Numbers have colors and personalities that I draw out in the form of cartoon animals, and I am so proud to share my unique experience with the entire world. I’ve been doing this before my autism diagnosis was revealed to me, and before knowing that I experienced synesthesia.
People strongly discouraged me from talking about numbers in public. My mother constantly reminded me that the other girls at school were going to think I was weird if I mentioned how much I adored 64. Michelle Winner’s Social Thinking emphasized modifying any “unexpected behaviors” that could potentially evoke weird thoughts from my peers, so the specialists agreed that my numbers were setting me up for ostracism. I was bullied incessantly for being myself, but nothing was a worse affront than adults telling me that I could have avoided it if I acted more “normal.”
When I was 12, I snooped onto a loose document that revealed my diagnosis. Knowing already that the word “autism” carried a stigma like the words “mentally ill” or “r****d,” I was mortified to find out that there was actually something “wrong with me.” I knew I was different, but I never thought that my way of thinking was an illness. Immediately after, I saw that the world wanted to exterminate people like me, when I read this bumper sticker:
Gee, I wonder why so many autistic people are reluctant to finding help, when there is so much negativity surrounding their condition. Believe it or not, I shook in panic when I googled “autism” and “aspergers” for the first time. I knew that most of the results would reek of ableism, but how was I supposed to have good self esteem without knowing what I was? And there I found a group of people whose thoughts echoed mine, when they expressed their disgust in organizations that wanted them to be “cured.”
Nine years later, I continue to stand with this group. It has become much larger and louder than it was in 2005. Just wait when the 2020s come along, and “00′s nostalgia” becomes commonplace. I will surely be “nostalgic” about the times when neurotypical parents and politicians all thought they knew what was best for us autistics!