When we meet someone new, it is expected that we get to know each other to some extent. The context of the meeting tends to dictate the sorts of questions that are typically part of the conversation. Where are you from? What do you do? Do you have any children? There are also some answers that are typically considered to be appropriate, and some answers that will generally attract a negative reaction.
I talk a lot about my children’s right to inclusion and acceptance. I talk often about autistic people’s rights to be safe, to be free to be themselves. I talk about the rights of neurodivergent people to support that helps them live the life they choose and live it well. Some people would say I mostly write about disability rights, but I believe these are issues of human rights. Today, I’d like to talk with you about another issue of human rights: the rights all people have to safety.
My husband and I downloaded and had a look at Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, called ASDetect, tonight. To say we were both uncomfortable with it would be an understatement.
I know we can’t change the past. I know that things in our past help us become who we are, and that is often a really positive thing. I know hindsight gives clarity and we probably shouldn’t spend too much time looking back with regret. But I have to admit I’m feeling angry about something that has happened, and happens to lots of people, that has meant I missed out on something really good for a long time. Looking back could be dangerous if we dwell there and don’t move on, but if we are willing I think there is something to be learned from it.
All my life I have wanted to blend in. I have wanted to be understood, to feel safe, to be able to tolerate a bit of vulnerability without needing to retreat for days to recover, and to be accepted for who I am. I have tried so hard to look the part, talk the talk, be one of the gang. It’s possible people do actually perceive that I have achieved that, but in my mind I have not. I have always still felt on the outside and uncomfortable, no matter what I have done to fit in.
My personal Instagram account is full of pictures of my garden. That’s pretty much all it is these days. I like Instagram, because it is a context in which people expect you to post images in themes or topics….. or, if we want to delve into pathologising my use of Instagram, “special interests”.
There is something about growing, changing, identifying parts of yourself that you had not recognised, that is deeply unsettlingly liberating. I have been struggling to put words to it. Then today, this beautiful butterfly sat in my path.