“Katy, you know what I love about asking you about something?” Mark asked.
“What do you love about asking me about something?” Katy asked. She put her hair behind her ear once again. It wouldn’t stay out of her face, that was probably the tenth time since they left the school, and they’d just barely made it to the sidewalk.
“When I ask you something, I know the answer is going to be right. Like, I know you’ve done so much research on it. I know you’ve exhausted every avenue you have. You don’t just stop at the first answer. You don’t even stop at the 100th, and you aren’t willing to answer if you don’t know. You just say you don’t know. It’s really cool. Plus, you can explain it really well.” He said.
Katy started rubbing her thumb against her fingers. She was never really sure how to take compliments. “Um… Thanks?” She smiled awkwardly, looking at his hair.
Mark laughed. “You’re welcome.”
They stared at each other for a moment, then continued walking. It was silent for a while. Katy never really did well with small talk, so conversation was kind of an all or nothing deal.
Lily had been rocking back and forth now for… how long? She doesn’t even know. It was still light out when it started. Nobody has been home for three days. Her back hurt from her legs being drawn up for so long. Her shoulders seared from holding onto her legs. Each time she rocked forward or backward, she could feel her back muscles burn.
It’s been hours.
She’s screaming in her head, but the words don’t escape her mouth. She opens it and nothing comes out. Nothing, nothing, nothing! The screams in her head are nearly incomprehensible now, it’s just too much. She had been crying for a long time earlier, but the tears couldn’t even come now. Every once in a while she was able to get out a hum, or something, anything vocal, but she couldn’t talk. Not even basic words. She tried listening to the t.v. when she could still move, but the words made no sense. She heard them, and she knew that she knew them, but they didn’t make any sense, she couldn’t understand them or what they meant. It was only more frustrating.
She had no way of reaching out to anyone, but the idea that someone might come home and see her this way was even more terrifying.
“W, w, w, w, wh, wh, what do you think we should d, d, d, do for dinner?” Corinna asked. Conversation was so embarrassing and slow when she struggled with her words.
“I, I, I, I, I…” Corinna’s mom waited as her daughter continued to repeat the word. “I, I, I, I…” Corinna shut her mouth, finally realizing that she was stuck, and hummed, frustrated. “soft tacos sound g, good.” she said quietly, sounding defeated. She got so mad at herself when her words didn’t work.
The stage fright was terrifying, but the shows were so exhilarating! Luckily, when you actually get up on stage, those lights are so bright you can’t really see anything. Steph was happy about that. She wasn’t sure if she could do shows otherwise, but man… People loved her music! It was amazing to see a whole sea of people just waving back and forth, up and down, moving to the music, feeling it to the core of their very soul.
She would be exhausted after the shows, but for that one beautiful moment, during the show, and then talking to all the people after, it was the wildest thing! She couldn’t believe all the conversations, and all the compliments, that she had received in the shows that she had done.
It was really cool to hear the other musicians as well. It was an intense, but satisfying atmosphere. At the end of the show, she always hoped that there would be another one, but for now, it was her, on stage. Her music, the center of attention, and it was such a beautiful thing.
All four of these women are me. I have been told what Katy was told. I’ve spent hours isolated, alone and scared just like Lily. I feel Corinna’s pain daily as I struggle through conversation, and Steph’s experience on the stage and in the venues are my own.
Functioning labels are frustrating and not helpful.
“Low functioning” autists have a voice. They are also very worth listening to, and to label them as low functioning throws them under the bus. Allistics don’t listen to anyone who is “low functioning” because they’ve deemed them not capable of reliable or functional thought. It’s bullshit.
“High functioning” autists and aspies like myself end up getting thrown under the bus because we are deemed “too normal” for help. We’re told, by allistics, that we don’t have the same problems, and that we aren’t “autistic enough”. You know what? I’m 28 years old, and I’m JUST LEARNING that I am indeed on the autistic spectrum. Why?
Because I functioned too well for allistic society.
I mean sure, I’ve never held down a job for more than a year and some change (usually much, much less).
Sure, I’ve never been able to make it through school.
Sure, I don’t have very many friends.
Sure, I’ve had communication problems throughout my life.
Sure, I’ve always been different.
Sure, I spend hours upon hours alone, breaking down, not knowing why (until now) sometimes unable to speak, sometimes unable to understand speech, and not being able to do anything about it.
But hey, I’ve managed to function well enough to have a formidable capacity for words, be “really smart” and make it on my own (with children) well enough to not be a complete and total desolate wreck, or dead. So I should be good right?
And because of this high function / low function dichotomy that allistics put on us, I haven’t ever had help until now, and from what I’ve been reading, I’m going to be having a hell of a time now even, because I’m labelled “high functioning”.
Look, from so, so, so, so many people in the autistic community to everyone who is allistic, please stop. You are hurting us by giving us functioning labels, you aren’t helping. Do Lily or Corinna seem “high functioning”? Do Katy and Steph seem “low functioning”? And yet they are all me.
Stop with the functioning labels.
Thank you for reading sunshines and have a beautiful day.