Lydia Wayman is an autistic author, speaker, blogger, and advocate from Pittsburgh. Her blog, Autistic Speaks, is irresistible reading if you want to get a better sense of what the world looks and feels like from the point of view of at least one very articulate person on the spectrum. Here’s Lydia’s list:
Top Ten Things I Wish You Would Accept, No Questions Asked:
1. I can be surprisingly good at one thing (say, remembering conversations precisely as they happened many years after the fact) and surprisingly bad at another thing that you might think should be so much easier (like keeping track of receipts or remembering the procedure for filling a prescription).
2. Just because I have the words to type it does not mean that I have the words to say it.
3. I really do hate to melt down, especially in public. If there were another way out, I would always take it.
4. I never play stupid. If I ask a question or say I don’t get it, it means I don’t get it. Please don’t make me feel dumber by saying that I’m faking it, just because it seems straightforward.
5. What may be slightly bothersome to you, like the waistband on a pair of pants, can cause me to be a witch all day… or at least until I change clothes. If I’m crabby, it’s because something is physically uncomfortable in the sensory realm of things. Until that thing changes, I will continue to be crabby.
6. I can’t control my excitement over cats. So if you mention cats or point out a cat, realize that I’m going to get excited. Let me enjoy it. A little happiness never hurt anyone, eh?
7. I am often completely unaware of self-injurious behaviors. I scratch, hit, bite, and pick often, and much more frequently when I’m agitated for some reason. In the moment, I don’t know that I’m doing it; if made aware, it’s so compulsive that I almost physically can’t stop myself. But using my head, obviously I don’t like the results of it.
8. I am exactly the same person inside regardless of how engaged (or disengaged) I am with the environment and others in it. Yes, you might have to change some things based on how I’m reacting in that moment, but please continue to treat me like the same person that I am.
9. Engagement and happiness do not depend on one another! I can be just as happy off in my own world as I am fully engaged with you. However, a lot depends on you, here. If I’m disengaged and you’re forcing me to “act normal,” then no, I don’t feel very happy. If you’re interacting with me in a way that I can in that moment, then I can be as happy as I’ve ever been.
10. While autism does mean that I am absorbed within myself (aut means self, after all), that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you around. If you can come to me, rather than forcing me out of my world to come to you, then I’d love to let you in. There’s a whole world in here… maybe you should check it out.
Lydia has also written a book, Living in Technicolor: An autistic’s thoughts on raising a child with autism, that is a collection of blog posts, poetry, questions and answers, and recipes.