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Jessica Corra @jessicacorra
, 23 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Hi! I’m #ActuallyAutistic, and I’d like to clear up some myths about my disability. First: yes, it IS a disability! My brain works completely differently than yours does, often interfering or limiting my daily functioning. 1/
Second, it’s a spectrum, so the way autism manifests in me isn’t the way it looks in everyone (or probably anyone but me). Third, high- and low-functioning are outdated, ableist terms. They are often used to differentiate between verbal, “independent” autistics, and 2/
non-verbal ones who may not be able to live independently. However, unless you're the autistic in question, you don’t know how well someone functions or not. More on that later. Autistics have empathy. Because we often don’t know how to process crises (or any social situation) 3/
the same way neurotypicals do, it can seem as though we don’t connect to others’ pain even when we do. I may just not be able to express it adequately because I struggle with interpersonal communication. So it may be harder for you to tell what I’m thinking or feeling 4/
unless I tell you. (Other autistics, if you haven’t researched nonviolent communication, it’s a great introduction to direct communication skills that could benefit you.) Some autistics (myself included!) prefer the company of animals, or even objects, to other people. 5/
Personally, it’s because animals are fuzzy and cute and make me feel better without draining me because I’m not sure how to interact. Your mileage may vary. Empathy isn’t mutually exclusive in this case. Some theories even say autistics have an overabundance of empathy. 6/
One reason we seem to disconnect is because we feel things so intensely. I know this is the case personally. What’s it like being #actuallyautistic? I’m glad you asked! While I can’t speak for anyone besides myself, here’s some of what I go through and how my autism shapes me. 7/
I have sensory processing disorder. Visual noise (clutter) makes me anxious. Noise-noise does too. I can hear extremely well, but I can’t process it as well, so I have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot. I startle very easily, partly because my hearing is so acute. 8/
Sounds you might not even register can bother me, such as when I’m in a room with a lot of electronics. There’s a certain buzz you might not notice but that grates on my ears. Unless it’s the middle of summer, I need my body covered. I feel “cold” when air drafts onto my skin. 9/
I prefer weighted blankets and even in summer typically have a blanket. Conversely, the blankets need to be heavy because I feel constricted if I bundle up too much; I can’t wear turtlenecks. I prefer small spaces to open ones; wide open spaces make me panic 10/
but small spaces make me feel safe: however, I must feel like I can get out. It took me a very long time to be able to ride the subway without panicking, and I still hate airplanes. (Why, yes, I have comorbid anxiety and panic disorders. Not uncommon!) 11/
I have a safe space in every place I’ve lived. It’s typically small with soft lighting. In my last apartment it was the walk-in closet, in this one it’s the bathroom. If I’m upset you can probably find me (and a blanket) curled on the floor of my safe space. 12/
I have meltdowns easily. You know those videos people post of their toddler having a total tantrum in public? (Do NOT post those, btw. Unethically violates the child’s privacy, AND makes fun of a kid in distress which is ableist in the case of autistic meltdown videos.) 13/
I’m 32 and I have those meltdowns. I prefer to call them shutdowns because I get them when my capacity to process emotions is overwhelmed. I typically end up on the floor, sobbing and hyperventilating and my husband, the saint, will hold me until it passes. 14/
I have done and do therapy to make sure I am very self-aware and can process stress, but the reality is that even at my best, my brain does not always keep up. I hate that my husband has to help me, it can be very draining for him. 15/
If you meet someone autistic, never say “You don’t seem autistic,” “really,” or “you’re so high functioning,” or any variation of being impressed. It’s not a compliment. Many of us have been trained to assimilate and appearing neurotypical is extremely taxing. 16/
Please look up autistic burnout, it is real and dangerous. I use social scripts I absorbed/learned at a young age to keep up with my peers. This is difficult because while it gets me through, it’s very hard to deviate from the scripts and sometimes I find myself agreeing 17/
with things I don’t/shouldn’t, or being carried along on a wave of social expectation even when it’s not healthy for me. I need significant downtime so having good boundaries is important to me, and getting lost in my social scripts can make it hard to enforce them. 18/
This is often due to problems with executive function: I will want to do something and my brain will not stop running the autopilot that keeps me from, say, going shower or eat. 19/
You can’t see the hidden costs that go in to being an autistic person in a largely allistic, neurotypical society. It’s exhausting. We may seem like we are functioning well, but inside we might be a wreck who needs to go home and not leave their house for an entire weekend. 20/
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Autistics are more likely to have comorbid chronic and mental health issues, we’re more likely to be an the gender and sexuality spectrum, and, sadly, we’re more likely to attempt suicide. 21/
I wanted to share this because of recent social media attention to autistics and mental health in general. Fifty years ago, I probably would have been institutionalized due to my meltdowns, my high need for downtime, my sensory issues. We’re not “psychopaths,” 22/
we’re people with feelings and dreams. We love. We have hobbies. We’re human beings. I hope this ginormous thread might help you see that. I’d be happy to take questions. #ActuallyAutistic 23/Fin
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