autistic photographer candid portrait
What should have been a fun first outing in the first warm up of 2015 was a walk fraught with tension. First, a dog (on a leash, thank God), came by, growling at me and my family member as we minded our own business. The dog and his owner came by again, dog still growling, looking very angry at us.
I should state that I have had horrible experiences with dogs, as I freak out (screaming, crying and flailing my body wildly when exposed to their barking). I have been ambushed and attacked once by dogs as well as forced to sit in a chair while hospitalized and listen to dogs that were in training for therapy bark and bark and bark without the use of my hands (they were forced off my ears) until I bit the behavioral health counselor who restrained me and broke free.
Anyway, I began a conversation with my family member about how they felt about dog ownership. The response was absolutely dreadful to my autistic ears: They would not mind getting a dog someday. This panics me, as I absolutely cannot occupy the same dwelling as a dog. They bark whenever. There is no way to predict when the next one is coming. Barking sounds like loud scraping carving out my ear drums.
I have had all the sensory exposure my brain can process. I have had Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. I have earplugs and headphones (which get uncomfortable after 3 hours of continuous wear). The biology of my brain is made up. I can’t unmake it or re-wish it. I cannot pray autism away (though I keep trying).
Why do I always have to eventually lose out to the objects that impair *my* autistic life? Why do I have to be discriminated against? Why do I feel like I am the only spectrum person who struggles with this issue and kids? Why do I have to feel so all alone? Why is this isolation & discrimination even necessary in 2015?
Why, oh why, aren’t their safe living arrangements for autistic people *like me* so that my family member could have a whole kennel and I could live in peace (no dog or small child neighbors)?
Even though I am a Christian, I do believe that if it comes to living with a dog by force or face a nursing home or other facilitated horror house, I do think God would accept my suicide as I am sure He accepted the suicide of those who jumped from the twin towers to their deaths to avoid burning to death.
I am tired of insensitive and self-centered people persecuting me for both being autistic and Christian. The Christian part is inevitable (1 Peter affirms this). The autistic part, especially with all the *awareness* out there, I do not understand. If you hate me for being autistic, fine, but don’t try to deny my existence or force me to live by your NT or even ASD rules.
I am obviously a conundrum. This is a fact, NOT a crime. I am doing my very best under abnormally high anxiety each day not to melt down, cause violent behavior or be a burden. I don’t think it is asking too much for some *REASONABLE* accommodations from my family member and from special needs housing developers!
This isn’t a hyperbole, this is reality (the non-manufactured kind).
Finally, I realize and respect that there are those very slightly challenged on the spectrum who can live independently and are very happy with their unique gifts. I would HOPE that those more able on the spectrum would extend the same courtesy to me. You are so very and richly blessed in the midst of your trials.
I still long to hear from a severely auditory-impaired autistic person who faces similar challenges. A person needs to know they are not all alone, some freak of nature in order to have some sense of self-worth and compassion for humanity.
Post script: It turns out that, not surprising to me, that when very anxious and upset, I misinterpret the way a person says something and I say things in a way I do not mean. I have had an emergency talk with my family member regarding living with dogs, and they assured me that I had them all wrong, that the idea of a dog was hypothetical (autistic people don’t do well with abstracts), and they would not be getting one as long as I lived with them (I am not capable of being on my own given the limited options available at this time).
I think the content of the post underscores the issue of miscommunication, misrepresentation, fear and uncertainty that people with autism spectrum disorder face. For these reasons, I am leaving this post on my site.
I wish there was an easier way to avert the gaping mess that autism inevitably leaves in its bloody wake.