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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

I dare you to walk in my shoes

Submitted by Cat Walker of Respectfully Connected and A is for Autiste

I'm using a public restroom and the walls dividing the stalls as well as the stall doors, are a deep, bright red.  It's a beautiful color, but too much for my brain and I feel completely overwhelmed by it.

My father had me convinced that my only gift for my ninth birthday was a large bag of rocks.  I was near tears when he finally explained that they were in fact aquarium rocks, and my real gift of the aquarium, was out in the car.  I'm still very na├»ve as an adult.

I walk every day in this world not made for me or my family.  I am inundated with the news of more of us being abused, tortured and even killed by our parents and caregivers.  How do I prepare my children for that? This world is not made for us; yet when we are tortured, neglected and murdered, it is our abusers who are put up on pedestals, the media and others crying out for the lack of supports.

At a gathering with a friend, I notice a terrible smell and cannot pinpoint its origin.  I can't think past anything else other than finding the source of the smell and getting rid of it.  It consumes me.  I check one place, then another; finally I pin it down and clean it up.  Only then am I able to continue on.

Eating at a restaurant, the eggs I ordered scrambled arrive over easy.  I don't notice until I've already started eating my meal and feel uncomfortable telling the server.  I have a hard time eating around the runny yolk and struggle not to gag during my meal.

Out at a cafe knitting, I wear ear buds with my music at full volume.  It's getting crowded, nearly lunchtime, and the visual clutter of all these people is overwhelming me.  I'm working on a simple knitting pattern, music of my choice blasting in my ears, and I still struggle to concentrate.

I make the mistake of seeing a film at the theater opening weekend and forget my chewing 
gum at home.  The auditorium is packed.  I fidget the entire time in order to get through the movie and not force my children to leave.  Afterwards, I need time in a silent, dark room to recover.

Would you like to walk in my shoes? For as many difficulties that I regularly encounter in this world not made for me, I am privileged to experience so much more that perhaps you cannot.

I have a very sharp sense of hearing and can pick out individual instruments in just about any song.  I do not currently play an instrument nor do I have much experience beyond a year's worth of clarinet lessons as a child.  I hear such pain, sadness, truth, and beauty in music.  I hear and experience that which others cannot.  

There is so much exquisite beauty to be found in this world not made for me.  I could sit and watch ocean waves for hours on end; the rhythmic pulsing of the water a feast for my eyes and the lilting welcome of the waves a balm to my soul.

Do you dare to walk in my shoes? Can you stomach the crush of emotions when you constantly read of another one of us tortured, abused or murdered? Have you got enough spoons to deal with the unending inspiration porn when an NT is shown being kind to us? 

Showing us the same respect most of you take for granted? Or what of the national organizations who make it their mission to prove to the world that you and your child were “stolen” at some point and need to be cured of that which makes you, you? Can you appreciate the stigma of an autism diagnosis as an adult and the very real fear of disclosing that diagnosis to others you encounter? Are you able to check your privilege long enough to walk in my shoes?

I dare you to walk in my shoes.  How long will you last?