This week, I have shared a few Tik Tok’s about being diagnosed in the 1990s and not knowing some autism behaviors that are common today. We just did them, we didn’t know the jargon that is used for them today. One must also understand that given one’s space it needs to be their safe space and they are free to express themselves in the way they wish.
Being diagnosed in the early years of autism, especially om the “Asperger’s” form of it presented challenges. While my parents did their best to educate my educators and others on that it was a form of autism. The educators, along with the professionals that were to help me, didn’t understand all of it. We are thankful to the research pioneers of the past two decades for doing their due diligence to figure out why we as autistics do the things we do.
Also, back then, behaviors that we now strive to make acceptable because it helps us rather than deter an autistics well-being wasn’t tolerated. Stimming, echolalia, scripting, masking. These terms in the early ages (1990s-2000s) were unknown to many, because the education wasn’t there and it made the autistics life difficult.
So, what did we do, we often held it in until we were out of the public eye and were in our homes.
This oftentimes resulted in a very unpleasant situation for my family. They had to see me suffer at my moments when I was trying to be the person who I was. However, whenever outside the home, I was mostly having to bottle these behaviors that are now known as autism away and hold them in until I was in my safe space. So I had learned mostly that these behaviors were OK in my safe space.
Not to say that an autistic can exhibit behaviors that can be inappropriate in public that may be deemed unacceptable or inappropriate. Then, work must be done in earnest to make sure they know and allow them to exhibit these behaviors in these safe spaces that are determined. I too struggled with this and now I know that that time is reserved for my safe space because that is where it needs to be done.
An autistic person, regardless of their ability to learn needs to know that they are loved and to be educated as much to their ability on their safe space and letting them know that they can retreat there when necessary to take care of themselves. Living with my parents I had this option and regretfully many times I did not follow up on their offer that I needed to retreat to that space to regroup from whatever ill situation we may have had at that given moment. It was something now growing up and understanding the sacredness of needing that time and space that I wish I could have taken advantage of.
Oftentimes while browsing social media, I see memes describing that a autism household is anything but normal. Oftentimes, because of not knowing I needed a safe space growing up, I would do what is now known as masking to not exhibit the behaviors that I wanted to. This was the same for school. When I got home and others were not around, I would let it all out and luckily my parents house was far from others. However, for those that live in apartment or other close-together communities, I see the struggles that autistics and their families face on a continual basis because of these behaviors may present for their neighbors. This may make the family feel unwelcomed or uneasy to be around and therefore there needs to be more education in larger communities on what autism is and the behaviors of today opposed to years ago. I was so lucky to not be so closely surrounded by neighbors growing up that it kind of made me immune to what families with special needs experience if they are closely located to other dwellings, therefore families need to educate their willing neighbors so that they can understand how their autistic child works and maybe they would be a good source of being of assistance if that is ever needed.
In closing, we must remember where autism has come from and how much behaviors have been expanded as well as the broadness of understanding that autism is indeed a spectrum over the years. We may grow from here, but it is the autistic and their family’s responsibility to educate all.