An Introduction to Your Culture, Autistic Friend

Most people are born into their cultures.

Autistic people, like us, have to find theirs. We certainly have a culture, but we’re spread few and far between, across the internet and sparsely in meatspace. Two Autistic people may meet each other and have entirely different ideas of what it means to be Autistic– even proudly Autistic. But regardless of individual discrepancies, there is an overarching culture that all Autistics can be a part of, and there needs to be a guide to this cultural world.

Here’s that guide. Come along now.

Our first stop is at Acceptance. This is Autistic culture’s gift to you. Imagine it as a ticket that says, “you are fine just as you are. You don’t need to be fixed. You don’t need a cure.” Keep it with you, because it will guide you through how you see Autistic culture.

Now there’s a few things you can’t take through the gate. Functioning labels are one. Autistic culture doesn’t align with the idea you can be a blanket statement “low” or “high” functioning human being. People function at different levels for different activities, and further, using these functioning labels can be anything from divisive to dehumanizing.

You also can’t take cures. Not that there are any. If there were, though, that would literally be eugenics. Look at your Acceptance. If you flip it over, it says you’re a perfectly valid human and autistic with no contradiction. Getting rid of your autism is getting rid of you. No cures.

Oh. You’ll need your vaccines. They’re good for you. Oh, you’re immunocompromised? That’s cool, we’re vaccinated enough to have herd immunity.

Let’s go through the gate into Autismville. You’ll notice that the slogan on the sign says, “An Autistic Community.” This isn’t the Autism Community, that’s over there and it’s where the parents and therapists live.

Now! To the right, we have stimming. What’s stimming, you might be asking? It can be a lot of things, from bouncing your legs as you sit, to flapping your hands when you’re excited or scared, or humming a few lines from a favorite song over and over, or any repetitive activity that calms you down. Anyways, stimming is good. It keeps us happy and well-regulated, even though the people in the dungeon try to stop us.

What was that? “What dungeon?” Don’t worry, we’ll get to the dungeon. More pertinent now is the AAC booth over to the left.

If you go talk to the woman at that booth, she’ll respond with her phone app– Augmentive and Alternative Communication. AAC. She’s non-speaking. That’s the word we like to use for people who don’t talk much, or at all, with their mouths. We don’t say non-verbal, because we find that implies a complete lack of communication, which isn’t true.

See those banners up there? The rainbow infinity sign is called a mobius, and it represents the endless spectrum that all autistics fall within. There is no start or end, just continuity.

Watch out for the giraffe party. Those are a long story, but we like them.

If you continue down this path, you’ll come to the castle. There’s a sign, “no flash photography or strobe lights”. Autism is highly comorbid with epilepsy and quite frankly, the flashing annoys us. Many of us are very sensitive to light and sound, as you probably know.

In the castle are two queens. That’s because, while Autism Awareness makes people think this is a boy disorder, plenty of women are autistic too– just underdiagnosed. The Queens’ names are Pride and Fury. Pride guides you in being true to yourself. Fury helps you make your needs known to those who don’t want to listen.

Yes, they’re lesbians. A lot of Autistic folks are LGBT+. A lot.

Pride and Fury told me we could visit the dungeon. It’ll be our last stop. Don’t worry! You aren’t staying there. It’s just down this staircase, or elevator if that’s more accessible.

Come through this door. Take a deep breath, the smell in here is wretched. Now look down into that pit. See those people down there? They’re ABA therapists. Some of them just straight up wants to fix unbroken kids, yeah, but some of them actually think they’re doing good and don’t understand. Those are the ones clawing at the walls, claiming that their ABA is different. They’re not.

What’s that? That guy in the middle? That’s Lovaas. He invented ABA. It was based on his attempt to prevent gayness in feminine boys.  Called it the Feminine Boy Project. No, stop! Don’t google it! You’ll cry.

Oh, here we go. It’s feeding time, I guess. Yeah, feeding time! Watch that cave. That big ol’ hydra coming out is Autism Speaks. It eats the money that autism parents insist on giving to it. We want to let it starve, but they just keep sending the money.

Watch! Watch how the hydra eats almost all of it. The ABA therapists will feast on the remaining 3%.

Oh, and that Autism Speaks hydra? Only like two of its heads are autistic, and really wishy-washy ones at that. Pitiful.

Alright, that’s enough for now. Let’s get you to your house. What’s your diagnosis? Ahh, doesn’t really matter. We’re all Autistic here, even if you’re self-diagnosed. But if you feel more comfortable saying Aspergers, we can get you a place there too. Just remember– we’re all in this together, none of that Aspie Supremacy!

I’ll let you get settled in now. Goodbye, and welcome to your culture.

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