Put Down The Gavel

I rarely feel passionately angry. It’s very rare. But I am today. This blog post is not directed towards anyone in particular, I just need an outlet for some seriously repressed emotional pain.

When I was growing up I was the “awkward” child. No one could relate to me. I wandered around houses during birthday parties. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I never dressed quite like the other children. I grew up with this fantasy in mind that as I aged, I would become just like everyone else. That I just needed time to figure out how everything worked.

But no matter how I did my hair or changed my clothes, the children wanted pretty much nothing to do with me. The few who spent time with me I was grateful to but often times those very same few turned around and metaphorically spit in my face.

“I only hung out with you because I felt bad for you but I have real friends now”

“Gretchen, this is why you have NO friends” (this was said by someone I trusted)

“Gretchen, don’t bother trying to make them your best friend, they already have one I’m sure”

“You’re welcome for the birthday party but don’t expect it again”

“Gretchen sometimes you’re brilliant, and then other times I worry about you”

“Gretchen, I don’t understand your lifestyle. I find it disturbing” (WHAT?)

Those are just a few that I can actually pretty much verbatim quote but there were plenty more. Who gave these people the authority to judge me? And when I was years later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome who ever gave them the gavel to decide that I am simply not “autistic” enough to meet their expectations? I tell people I have Asperger’s Syndrome and that it falls under the Autism Spectrum…and they automatically assume that it means that I should be some stereotype that Hollywood has created.

I have had enough garbage flood my ears that I am surprised I have any self respect at this point in my life. I truly do not understand why people in this world feel they have any right to decide what I am and what I am not.

Let ME tell you who I am not: I am not a freak, I am not a weird person, and I am not attention seeking. God made me the way that I am. I am me. Yes, I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I function on a high level. Yes, I am socially awkward. Yes, I have few friends that I see on a regular basis. But why is it the world’s right to throw my personal struggles in my face?

My favorite line ever said to me “Well if you have mild Asperger’s Syndrome, then you basically don’t have anything at all.” I wanted to scream. First I am not normal enough for society and then I am simply not autistic enough for them. Who asked them to begin with?

To me World Autism Awareness Day is not about everyone shouting “Hey it’s Autism Awareness Day”. The world already knows that. So let’s get real about this. Here’s some real awareness for you. For those who haven chosen to pick up that gavel, here is some extra information to take into consideration (I will try to avoid getting too personal)

Did you know how hard it is for me to sit at work under fluorescent lights five days a week and how much it bothers my eyes?

Did you know that if I don’t know you, I hold my breath when I make eye contact because I see to much when I look into your eyes?

Did you know that when I am in the bathroom and the toilet seat drops, I cover my ears because that sound literally goes through my body?

Did you know that I want so badly not to take over conversations constantly but it’s almost impossible at times? I literally cannot stop it sometimes.

Did you know firetruck sirens have literally made me stop breathing in the past and I still cover my ears and forget the flashing lights and that I have to close my eyes half the time if I’m not driving?

Did you know that when I feel any pure emotion, I tremble and my heart races and I have panic attacks and pace the floors of my apartment?

Did you know that I cannot help the way I am? I didn’t label you, so don’t label me.

So whether you are on the Spectrum, off the Spectrum or from Mars, think before you speak. It is hard enough for the Autism Community to be looked down upon by many, but when it happens within the Autism Community it literally infuriates me.

Don’t judge me. Don’t label me. You have no right to decide who I am or what I am- whether I am too normal to fit into your community or not normal enough to fit into another piece of society?

Put down the gavel and give it a rest.

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About Gretchen Leary

I am 31 years old, I live in the Boston area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Put Down The Gavel

  1. Beautiful. My son has so many of the same reactions. ((Strength and peace.))

  2. Would it be OK to link this to the Autism Acceptance Day blog?
    http://autismacceptanceday.blogspot.com/

    • Hi there, it’s kind of an angry post…if you’d rather I could write a happier blog post as well?….kind of hesitant but if you think it would be appropriate then go for it.

  3. Eärthea says:

    This is an amazing post. I am 23 years old and last year I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Obviously since I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult I am pretty high functioning, and I have also been told I can’t be autistic because I do not behave the way people think a person with autism should behave. Then after telling one of my roommates in the hopes that it would help them understand the fact that I sometimes do things that are not socially appropriate but I am not doing it on purpose, I was told that my roommate was terrified of me and not used to dealing with my kind of “mental illness.” I have struggled to figure out who I am since being diagnosed, and I have realized that I am many, many things, and someone on the autism spectrum is just one of the things I am.

    • I can relate in a lot of ways. Some of the same people who said they thought I was totally normal were the same people who were too overwhelmed to be my friend once they got to know me.

      People judge others based on what they know and what they think they know.

      Hang in there! Write to me anytime.

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