But you don’t look like you are Autistic

I am nearly speechless every time I hear this.  Only nearly speechless.  I am never speechless.  The thoughts are constant and if they are not spilling out onto the paper, then you can be sure they will be dashing into your airspace.  Well, where else are they going to go?

So, what exactly, in your opinion, does an Autistic person look like?  What on earth does this mean and why are you saying it?  Do you know anyone Autistic?  In fact, to make this statement, I can only presume that you know hundreds of people with AS difference and that they all look the same.  No?  Well what then?  What are you picturing?  Let me guess.  If I don’t look like Rainman or Forest Gump, then I can’t be a person with Autism?

Do all neurotypicals look the same?  You all sound the same and behave in the same confusing way, but you don’t look the same.  I can’t tell that you are an NT until you speak.  As soon as you say, but you don’t look Autistic, then I know, your ignorance and prejudice shines through.  But your general appearance? 

My daughter has studied the mummys arriving to collect their bundles from University.  She says that there is a kind of uniform.  They arrive in a nice car and step out wearing white jeans and some sort of Phase Eight type floaty floral top.  They carry a stylish bag and have sunglasses holding back their hair.  I arrive in my very trendy red Range Rover and I too am wearing white jeans with a pretty top.  You would never know.  If you spotted the floral backpack thrown on the floor in the car, then you might start to wonder.  And if you noticed that I can only wear the sunglasses for short periods of time because they hurt my head too much, then you might raise an eyebrow.  And if you see me later, you will notice that I have spilled coffee on my white jeans and probably smeared chocolate accidentally because I held it too long whilst thinking about something and it melted in my hands.  But only the trained eye would see past the initial appearance.  And in my experience, the NTs make their mind up very quickly and believe exactly what they think they see.  So you would see another yummy mummy with leisure time to spare enabling her to collect her offspring for the Christmas holidays.

I am going to ask as many people as I can, what they think a person with Autism looks like.  It might be fun to find out. 

Sometimes I wear lots of colours that clash, with a non- coordinating scarf and hair ribbons.  If possible, then also a hat and some multi coloured pumps.  I only do this when my daughter isn’t looking – I’m not that mad – she is a scary, judgemental NT who wants me to appear at least a little bit normal on the outside.  And if you saw me then?  Well, you would question my sense of style or colour choice.  You might think that I am just a rebel defying the latest trends.  I haven’t a clue what they are, so that would never be true.  But, you wouldn’t be able to see inside my brain and recognise neurological differences at first glance would you?  And if you can’t see that I am Autistic, then you can’t see that I’m not.  If you see what I mean? Oh and just to clarify in case I am causing offence.  I don’t mind being a person with Autism or an Autistic person or a person with an ASD – as long as we change the D – or someone on the spectrum.  I don’t really mind the labels.  I am more interested in you seeing and hearing me for who I am.  But, I do respect everyone else’s choice. If I meet you then I will use the words that you feel comfortable with.  My writing here is about me and I tend to interchange terms.  These are only about me and not intended to offend or confuse or insult or denigrate anyone else. 

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