Autism Stories from Autistic People – Why It’s Worth the Exhaustion

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The first things that come up for me when I start typing in “autism stories” to search

  1. autism stories of hope
  2. autism stories from parents

Both are well and good, but we need more autism stories from autistic people.

To that end, I’ve opened up shop on YouTube and launched my first video, where I cover why it’s critical for us to share more from our unique autistic perspectives. I’d love you welcome you as a subscriber there!

That said, I can see why autistic storytelling is in shorter supply.

IT IS EXHAUSTING. 

I think I left that above frame in the video, and I didn’t act that one out. I was spent after sitting in front of a camera for 7 to 9 whole minutes, framing what I wanted to say, and front-loading my most expressive self.

IT IS NOT EASY.

So not only am I “keeping my jets on” for camera, I’m contending with those obsessive, OCD-style things that threaten to disappoint and dissuade me from just opting out of this mess altogether.

Did you notice:

  1. I have a loose hair clinging to my goatee, and I noticed it all too late after I was halfway into editing
  2. I said I cried during all three Toy Story films. There are four. (Thanks a lot, Zach Bowders).
  3. The audio that jumps too high when I read off the numbers to the “five things”
  4. At least three cuts that were a millisecond too quick
  5. How I started reaching for my glasses too early to stage the “expert” scenes

It’s normal to pick at your own imperfections, but when you’re both autistic and hyper-self-aware-critical, it’s enough to keep your story from coming out. And then all the “pre-staging” I’m doing to prep for people who don’t like this content or getting my first thumbs down – it’s like I have to check my anxiety cloak at a door that I keep entering and exiting.

IT IS A LOT.

But it’s necessary.

I’ve been super grateful for the kind words and the feedback and the people who think I’m good at editing (thanks 😛 ). And because it’s worth mentioning, I’ve spent years in front of a camera for virtual work meetings, so it’s something I’ve acclimated to. It still gets to be a bit much, but I can do it a little justice in short bursts.

So what now?

If you’re an ally for autistic causes, support your autistic storytellers. I know it’s hard not to share your proximity and your involvement as a parent or significant relation to an autistic loved one, but their voice matters. 

If you’re autistic, share your story. You deserve to. The platform should be yours, ours. 

It’s exhausting effort, but it’s worthwhile. And I’m going to continue doing so here, in writing (my first love and best skill) and on video.

I hope you’ll do and support the same!

I am glad you’re reading this blog! This is my “easy” medium, and it’s nice to use one of my few skills to do good. Video is my “hard” medium, but I’m giving it an earnest go. To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram. Thanks!

 

The Life Autistic: Only I Could Have Gotten This One Word in a Performance Review

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When I saw the word, I laughed. Out loud. In the middle of my review.

“I’m sorry,” I told my boss. “I said I wouldn’t read ahead to the feedback. But this — it’s too true.”

I’m fortunate to get a performance review every year, which assesses my work and includes feedback from my peers, co-workers, and clients.

I say fortunate, because I’m optimistic; these past few years have been a bit tougher on me.

I made a career switch to something that would test me differently, leaving behind a decent run in middle management, where most everyone seemed to appreciate me, people respected my work, and leadership threw me a ton of money.

I gave that up because I needed a different challenge.

And it has been a challenge — a humbling one at that.

I pivoted to an area where I started from scratch, needing to build my skills, connections, and clout all over again.

Expertise and experience take work. My reviews from years back were like annual coronations of that effort, while now they’ve been more building blocks and stepping stones in my current career.

This year, though, amidst half-decent feedback and kind commentary, one phrase stood out:

“Hunter tends to be a bit obtuse in his analogies…”

OBTUSE!

Unlike the Warden in Shawshank, I got the connotation straight away. I wasn’t mad – that’s a brilliant word! That takes English dexterity, a connoisseur’s word, one that I appreciated.

Obtuse wasn’t just deliberate. It’s just me.

The rest of the comment was positive, but ‘obtuse’ rang as an unassailable attribute, something that typifies me as much as redheadedness.

It was my worst review in years, relatively speaking. It’s a newer gig to me.

But that’s ok.

I’m going to try harder things. I’m going to get good enough to have a chance to be bad at something even more difficult.

Though my stories, analogies, and communication might have obtuse angles, there’s one angle I hang onto that helps most of all:

Positive.

One Year of Writing All Wrong!

One whole year of Writing All Wrong! I’d make a celebratory cake for you all, but my baking skills range from the inept to the maladroit.

Instead, I’ll highlight some of the year’s most popular, hated, and engaging posts. Thank you very much for visiting, and I look forward to more of you picking up something here and putting it to use.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Without further ado: This Year’s (Completely Arbitrary) Top Ten of Writing All Wrong 

Forsaking Flash Fiction 

Because it’s by far the most hated, argued, loathed, and despised post in all of Writing All Wrong. It’s been accused of “missing the point” and being “clearly flawed.” I’m fine with opinions on opinions. But if you’re a flash fiction connoisseur, this is a must-read. It’s the only post on the interweb that argues against flash fiction, daring to go where no others are brave enough to tread.

You Don’t Need to Make Your Characters “Relatable”

Because all of the hits on this post come from people who are trying to make characters relatable, and nothing more. If you’re not questioning “why” things should or shouldn’t be done in writing, then you’re doing it wrong.

8 Things to Keep Out of Your Opening Sentence

Because you cannot afford to stumble right out of the gate. A bad enough opening sentence will close the door on your book before there’s a chance to crease its spine.

Block Writer’s Block

Because writer’s block is nothing more than a pothole that you dig yourself. It’s a disease suffered only by the “aspiring, wannabe” writer.

Ten Ways to Move from “Wannabe” Writer to “Writer”

Because you’re a fake if you continue to trumpet yourself as something you aren’t – a writer. NASA Weapons Engineer, NBA 3-Point Specialist, Pope: those are things you “aspire” to be. Not with writing. Off the duff and to the desk with you!

Writing Contest? Duh, WINNING!

Because writing contests are less about writing and more about attention. That is fact. But since they’re part of the ecosystem, it’s best you know how to play the game.

Like-for-Like

Because I had fun on this post, and I think the simile is an underused tool in fiction.

Incongruous Juxtaposition – Genre Combination and the Art of Mayhem

Because it’s funny, and you need to laugh.

Writing Group Therapy

Because . . . writing groups – ugh. They’re beyond redemption.

10 Questions Writers Must Ask Themselves

Because you need to be asking more questions of yourself. Calibrate that craft, and interrogate your instincts.

Here’s to another year of Writing All Wrong. Cheers.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).