Friday, September 29, 2017

Review of The Good Doctor that's actually more than just a review of The Good Doctor because is it ever really something simple with me

Warning: General use of " you" Maybe spoilers. Talk about abuse, death, hospital stuff, probably lots of triggering stuff. Just prepare yourself its a heavy show and so there will be heavy topics. I poured myself into this. Thank you to this show for kicking my executive dysfunction and inspiring me to write about something.

I was wrong. Those are words no one likes to say, but I'm incredibly happy to say them today.

The Good Doctor premiered on Monday and I was so prepared, so ready to hate it, so ready to throw another towel in. I didn't see a point in watching it all, because what would the point be? I'd hate it anyways; It'd be just another stereotypical, inaccurate portrayal of autism. The tiresome tropes were there, and I'm so sick of them by now that I just barely wanted to give this show a chance, because they've never worked before so how could they work now? But I decided to watch it; What the hell, I've got nothing to lose. 

I prepared myself to hate it, I prepared myself to be offended, I prepared myself to put another bad piece of representation in the bin. However, I didn't prepare myself for was watching something that I could completely, utterly connect to and empathize with deeply. 

When I first heard about this show, and saw how my community talked about it, I never thought I'd be telling you that The Good Doctor is the show I'm talking about here. 

Heck, I wrote about it in a blog post how I didn't see any hope at all for this show. It would definitely be just another stereotype and not even worth giving a chance. I assumed the absolute worst. 

I never thought I'd be saying it's the greatest canon representation of autism I've ever seen. 

I remember the first time I saw a canon portrayal of autism. I went into it with so much ignorant hope, and I was let down so hard. I was so mad. I swore to be extremely critical of any representation after that. I didn't want to feel so completely mocked again; We get enough of that already.

I saw another trailer for the show, more improved than the first one, and while I was still skeptical, it was good. I was still scared, but I began to feel a bit more hopeful. And if it didn't turn out good, at least I'd get to say "I told you so", both were good for me.

So Monday night came around and I was terrified, I was excited, but also terrified. Every new piece of representation that comes out, it's usually dread, but this time I had some hope, and I was just praying it'd be good. But honestly, if it was, I didn't know how to even react. What did good representation feel like? 

I believe my first words were "I was wrong". 

Oh my god. Oh my god guys. It was good. It was GOOD.

When I tell you everything- E v e r y t h i n g- Everything was there.

From the very minute Shaun was introduced, I instantly saw myself. How his little routines are so precise. I noticed his cat, and I instantly knew he was an animal lover. 

He left the house and when he walks he sees a line in front of him. I do this, and when I tell you I was so excited- I was so excited. But also terrified because I thought little leprechauns had crawled in my brain and told the producers everything they saw. I thought I was the only one who did this, I didn't know it was significant or that anyone even knew about it. And here I was, seeing a character who sees things the same way as I do. You don't know how full I felt in that moment. That's what good representation feels like. 

A ball rolls to Shaun's feet, he's instantly brought back to a childhood memory- one of memory- and I feel the emotion building up inside. Because this show gets it. They see how hard it is, but it's not like other stuff I've seen where they make it out to be our own fault, because we're not trying hard enough to be normal and if we did it wouldn't happen. Other stuff I've seen blames us for being autistic. 

Other stuff is on the opposite of the spectrum, it's too positive; Our lives are perfect because we're smart and junk. We're just a little awkward, that's all. 

This show was different. Finally. It was real. For the first time I felt connected, rather than alone while watching something that should make me feel surrounded. 

He's lost in flashbacks, he's zoned out, not saying a word, standing what I referred to as "an autistic stance", and a young boy is trying to get his attention. He finally comes to and kicks the ball to the boy and walks away. That's how it is.

He takes a bus to an airport, and inside was yet another look through my eyes. They showed the scurrying of feet, the lights, the different sounds, all meshed together. They were showing what Shaun sees. They were showing what I see. 

Something falls and hits a little boy, an emergency team rushes to save him. After a few moments Shaun walks up and tells them that they're not helping him, they're killing him. He explains why, while an example of his photographic memory is shown. The way his brain remembers things, is exactly like mine. Little words and pictures and all sorts of things, all collaged together. 

Shaun goes to the desk to ask for the supplies he needs. He asks for a knife but he can't communicate it correctly, so they assume he's asking for malevolent reasons, and won't give it to him. People assume autistic people follow rules and take no for an answer. Shaun grabs the knife and runs. Runs very awkwardly, just like me. 

They tackle him but one of the emergency people comes to his defense. People have pointed out that the police were too calm, despite tackling him, which I have to agree, it may not have resulted in Shaun getting away at all. The police brutality rates for disabled people are very high, but this is our protagonist, so it's not like that reality is going to really be shown. So just keep that in mind. I think they did a pretty decent job of at least showing the work all fields need in understanding autism. 

Shaun saves the boys life.

Do you see the outcomes of listening to autistic people? How crucial we need better autism training in absolutely everything? This may be just a show, but it illustrates something so real. 

At the hospital Shaun will be working at, there's a debate going on if he should be. This is where I've seen some people say "that is illegal!! You can't not hire someone because of their disability!!!" But if you have ever been autistic in the world, you will learn very quickly that people can find ways against the laws to protect their precious ableism. You know how much shit that happened to me in the public school district was most definitely against the law? A crap ton of it. Laws are broken every day, the meanings are changed, to the point they barely matter anymore. It's the purge everyday. This is getting depressing, but it's true. You think there's not places out there who are doing what this place on the show is doing? Maybe in real life it's more subtle, saying you're not going to hire that autistic actor because they don't have the right hair color, or that autistic person can't teach this because they didn't have the requirements for this specific thing, when in reality they just don't wanna hire an autistic person. Or excluding a chronically ill kid from school activities they enjoy because they didn't want them to "miss practice" or "overdo it" when in reality they saw that kid as an inconvenience and were blatantly segregating them. That kid was me. I was left out purposefully and punished simply for being ill. Is that legal? Probably not. Definitely not. There are disability laws placed everywhere. Does that stop people from breaking them? Absolutely not. I'm living proof they're rarely followed. And the justice for these broken laws isn't as common as justice for other things, unfortunately. Disabled people are called a "minority" for a reason. 

There is a conference discussing Shaun's limitations, they use "high functioning" and "savant syndrome" which, as I discussed, I could do without. But someone pointed this out, this is a medical setting, they use terms like this for many things. Medical settings aren't known for being very correct, just technical. So I understood it, because it was actually pretty accurate. If anything, it just showed how even a "high functioning" autistic person struggles so greatly. Independence doesn't equal able to do everything, not independent doesn't equal able to do nothing. Moving on- It was like watching the internet as people. People hear autism and they make all these assumptions about ability, and sometimes this causes autistic people to make assumptions about themselves. This amazing man on the show, I don't remember his name, but he's a father figure to Shaun- he fights for him. By hiring Shaun they not only gain just another good doctor, but they "give hope to those with these limitations and show they they do have a shot" 

On the way to the hospital Shaun has another flashback. This was the hardest scene in the entire show. I won't explain it in detail, but to keep it simple, Shaun and his brother were abused, his bunny is killed (which took me the whole night to get over. "Autistic people can't feel empathy". I cried over a fake bunny for a whole night.) It is painful, it is heartbreaking, and half of my sobs are because I was so aware in that moment of how lucky I am to have two parents that love me, and do their best to understand. Why should that be luck? The other half was empathy. I don't have abusive parents, and I've never been physically abused, but I was abused at the hands of teachers. It wasn't just misunderstanding or sensitivity, it wasn't me being a problem child. I was made to feel stupid and broken and it left me with scars that still haven't fully healed. I started school a child who was not afraid to cry, to express their emotions, to be open about them. I left a child who was petrified to cry for fear they'd be shamed, threatened, and punished by people I should feel safe with. Sometimes something so small in someone will remind me of these people and for a moment I don't recognize anyone anymore and I'm so scared. Sometimes even though I'm not there anymore it feels fresh, it haunts me, and I still hear the taunting fresh in my head. I feel so weak sometimes, like maybe it was my fault, like I'm not strong enough for not letting it go. That's what abuse does to you. Even though the kind I faced was different, it made me feel less alone. I'm not alone, even though this is just a story, I realized how many people have been through it. Most of us have. And we shouldn't have to have gone through it. It's not fair. It's so unfair. I cried hard, and I never do that. This made me open up a little. Because I was faced with something so hidden deep below and I was seeing that I wasn't the only one. The emotions were not one in specific. I wasn't happy nor sad. I was just crying. It was beautifully painful. 

Shaun gets to the hospital and he attempts to verbalize that the young boy needs an echocardiogram. Nobody listens, and he starts to meltdown; The one female doctor I once again do not remember the name of tells him to behave or he'll be thrown out. He is persistent, but they throw him out. Once again, they do not listen. I am so strongly empathizing at this point, feeling angry for him. I could see myself- A foreigner in a strange place, speaking some different language than everyone else, most people don't try to learn. They don't understand and they don't try to. 

He's standing out in the rain and has noticeably shut down at this point. When the ignorant doctors who I Don't Like finally realized how wrong they were they go find him. He's shutdown, non verbal, and can't collect his thoughts at all. He's repeating small words over and over and can't quite make anything coherent come out until one of the doctors which as I've said I cannot remember the names of says a medical fact that Shaun has scripted, and Shaun finds the words. Power of the script. 

They go inside to do the echocardiogram. They all see it as a normal heart, but Shaun sees something they don't. He believes a piece of glass has entered the blood stream. CLAIRE (I remembered google exists), who is the more open minded of this Brady bunch, is aware of how rare that would be, but suggests that he could be right. The doctors reluctantly go along and check, and there it was, he was right. Did we doubt this? No. Did they? Yeah. I reacted to this victory like a proud dad- That is how you know I'm invested. 

I just now realized some of this may be out of order, but I'm just going by memory.

Shaun is brought into the conference room to give a speech on why he thinks he'd be a good surgeon. He freezes, just stands there silent, stimming, everyone looking at him like he has two heads. Another flashback to his childhood, which I'm not going to to go into, because it may have been predictable but it was still shocking so I'm not going to spoil it. I've already probably spoiled like half of this but I am just not able to review things without going into intense, painstaking detail. It's just who I am. 

Finally, he speaks. He delivers it in a creative, poetic way, describing events by their smells. Tears fill his eyes and mine. You have to hear the speech for your own. 

He ends it bluntly in true autistic fashion with "and I also want to make lots of money so I can buy a television" That's my boy. 

He goes to eat lunch, making extremely sure there is no pickles in his food. Soon Claire- Thanks again, Google- comes to talk to him. 

She asks him if he's new to town, he says yes. She asks him if he has any questions about the town or the hospital, and he very autistically replies "no". Me too. 

He explains how he has a map of the place and should be fine with that, Claire just gives up and walks away. Shaun stops her and says he has one question.

"Why were you rude to me when we first met then nicer to me the second time we met. Which time was it that where you pretending?"

I've said nearly those exact words. My whole life, I've felt so dumbfounded in friendships and social situations. People constantly change and never tell me what they want and I never know what comes next. I just want to know what is true. I just want people to say and be what they mean. 

At this point I'm just a mess. Cheering and crying and wishing I wasn't 15 so I could marry Freddie Highmore. 

Last scene, Shaun is offered to go participate in a surgery. We learn why he holds a little toy scalpel, and why he tussles his hair. A surgeon spews some ableist bullshit about how Shaun will never truly be on his team, and Shaun tells him he's better than any surgeon he ever knew in college. I love this man. I. Love. This. Man. 

He also tells the surgeon (who I'm not even gonna bother to know the name of) that he's very arrogant. He asks if that makes him a good surgeon, or more, if that makes him a good person. And is it worth it? 

I was in awe. Shaking and taking in everything I had just watched. I believe one of the first things I said was "I just watched good representation" 

This is why representation matters, kids. Good representation feels like this.

Everything. Everything was there to a T. The stimming, the communication and social skills, the synesthesia, the body language, everything. Everything, everything, everything. Freddie Highmore is the worlds greatest gift I have decided, he is one of if not THE best actor, ever. I am aware this is dramatic and I do not care at all. It was all so natural, he portrayed it so delicately and precisely, and I had to ask myself about 7 or more times, a few times out loud, if he's really as neurotypical as they say he is because frankly I'm shocked a neurotypical person could do THAT. I'm not a psychologist so I can only speculate, but I can just tell this is important to him for one reason or another, the way he talks about it- he knows. He cares. And that means the world to me. That tells you everything you must know about my feelings on how it was represented. It's very easy to relate to a character but feel like something is still off, this wasn't like that. I felt like I was just looking in a mirror. It was truly, truly amazing. 

Was this show perfect? No. There were tropes, some terms I didn't like, some things that felt over the top and campy (but I didn't expect anything less coming from a medical drama), and moments that teetered on inspiration porn. As much as I adored it I was also annoyed because one of if not the best canon pieces of representation I've seen yet just HAS to be about my biggest fears (blood, death, hospitals, etc. etc.) It made a lot of it unwatchable, but I trucked through. 

The thing that stands out to many is that he's your same old white, cisgender male genius. But, in my controversial opinion, I really don't think that matters. Well- it does, because is it tiresome? Yes. Is there more than one kind of autistic? Yes. But I see so many people not giving this show a chance for that reason, and maybe this will be controversial but I believe when representing autism it should be about autism. Not race, not gender, not intelligence, not anything but autism- This goes for any end of the spectrum. This goes for anything with a main topic at hand. I don't care what the character looks like, what they are, any of that, I just want to watch something and not feel spat at. I was watching his show for no reason other than to see how good the autism was portrayed, not how good his whiteness or his maleness or anything else was portrayed. 

The first piece of representation I ever saw was a female person of color. She fit every stereotype in the book, she was a complete walking stereotype (not to say that there's no one out there like her, stereotypes exist for a reason, and those who could relate to her are not wrong for doing so). I saw a lot of people ignore her (really big) flaws because of how diverse she was, and that really bothered me. This is the typical story of judging a book by its color. And no, I'm not saying "ohhh I don't see color" I do. Ones race can be a huge part of their identity. But I'm not of color, I'm not reviewing for race, because I would never try to speak about something that doesn't directly affect me and when I see people do that it drives me absolutely mad. The people who have had a huge problem with this have all lacked the identity of being of color or being LGBT+ or anything like that, and it's perfectly FINE to care, it's very important actually, but I personally find it very disrespectful to try to be a voice for a group you're not even in. Why do you get to be the one offended or the one deciding what's good for a community you're not even apart of?

I myself am LGBT+, but I'm not reviewing for gender or sexuality. I'm reviewing an autistic character. I've seen people on the topic of this show literally say they don't care about the traits he portrays simply because he's a white cisgender male genius. If you're watching for those things, then why say you're reviewing it for autism? That's not true. You're reviewing it for other reasons. 

I've seen people dislike Speechless, which is probably THE most diverse show, because it "follows the same narrative". This show has given disabled people jobs, it has given disabled people, women, and people of color positive role models. And you're going to tell me because the main character is a white male teenage boy that's all erased? I suppose our idea of diversity is different. Mine is that everyone, minorities and majorities alike, coexisting and all being included. I guess yours is that no majorities exist at all and all the great historical minorities dance down from the heavens. It seems like that's what people want, and you're never going to get that. We might as well cast shows with rocks and pieces of grass. Although, people could find a way to make that "offensive" too. I could scream. Y'all know I will defend Speechless until the day I die. GAHHH. 

I also see a lot of people ignoring representation because it's convenient. This is in every single group, but in specifics here with autism. There have been autistic female characters, characters of color, and so on. Two recent examples are Julia from Sesame Street and Billy from the power rangers movie, both have been extremely well received by autistic people, but I see so many people forget they exist when it comes to ranting about representation they don't particularly like to back up their arguments.

They also act like a diverse character can only ever be a good one. Half of the least accurate autistic characters to me were all minorities in some way, and not for that reason because I know someone will make accusations because this is 2017, but because they followed stereotypes and just were inaccurate to me. A lot of the accurate representation, mostly headcanons, are minorities too! You can do diverse representation well, but when we focus on one aspect of ones identity over another instead of seeing someone as their own unique person, that's when things go wrong. If you're writing an autistic character and you only educate yourself on their skin color or gender, how are you going to portray them correctly? Likewise, if you're watching autistic representation to review other diversities, how are you going to see it correctly? 

Something else that really, really bothers me about some reviews I've seen of this show and others is that a lot of people tend to speak for everyone instead of themselves. They seem to think "well I think this so everyone does" - And listen, I am completely guilty of being this way, and I will admit it, but I also actively work to change this. I work everyday to better myself when I know something I'm doing is ignorant and could be harmful to other people. 

Opinion isn't fact, and you're also not the God of the autistic community. You didn't like it, but that doesn't mean it's horrible and should rot in hell and everyone who likes it is a stereotype perpetuating trash monster. Specifically with this show, I could intensely relate to this character, and to see someone, some people I followed and admired, saying that "no autistic people are like this, he's just a walking DSM" hurt. Am I just a walking stereotype? Am I less valid as an autistic person because I can tick off a majority of checkboxes? A huge majority of autistic people have their own unique dance on the spectrum, they're atypical and tick their own boxes, but some people fit specific boxes and can relate to the stuff they've been evaluated and represented with. Both of these people exist and it annoys the absolute crap out of me to see invalidation and gatekeeping in ANY community. You don't get to define what autism is just because you're autistic. Autism is defined by every autistic individual, it is a spectrum, and it is so complex and holds a different meaning for anyone with an autistic brain. 

I get it, you didn't like the character, that is perfectly okay. But what's not okay is ignoring that there are people behind these characters that are real and exist, simply because they don't fit your convenient little diverse checkbox. In an attempt to diversify things and make sure not to perpetuate any stereotypes we alienate real existing autistic people from a community they call home. What you are doing is what allistic people do. You're pulling that "my sisters cousins dog walkers uncles cats grandmas son is autistic and---" crap. Once again, I don't care who you are, you're being just as harmful as whatever representation you're talking about. You can dislike something, even hate it, but don't make people feel bad for relating to it. 

I personally hate Atypical with my entire guts, but I've seen autistic people say they could relate to it, even if just in aspects, and that's fine with me. I don't hate the autistic people that relate to it, I hate the show, because it personally doesn't represent me. I wouldn't want to be compared to this character at all, and regardless of how diverse a character is, if I don't relate, I don't want to be associated. Because any character could be the backboard of a "you can't be autistic because you're not like---" comment in the reality of it. 

The fact is, autism is a spectrum, we are all different- so very different- and I think we need representation to match. I pray for a day that we get to see ALL kinds of autistics on tv. I can also, however, acknowledge we need to start somewhere. 

Some of us will love things, some of us will hate them. No two of us will ever be identical, and to assume that, is frankly ableist. 

NOS Magazine's review, while differing from my opinions, was respectful and just that- an opinion. They also were very open to the show and hopeful that any flaws had the possibility to get better, which I really appreciated. They didn't attempt to speak for anyone but their own selves, and I completely respect anything they publish. Their reviews on Atypical were spot on and incredible, and I suggest that everyone go read them right now. I cannot praise this website enough, I never walk away feeling like the odd one out or insulted, even if how I feel from them is wildly different- especially because they're extremely open to other people's perspectives. They're a perfect example of how you should do things. Please go support this lovely website, I can't praise them highly enough. They really are my very favorite. 

I've seen a few people call Shaun's character "dumb and clueless" because he only really talks when it has to do with his special interest. I don't care if an autistic person said it, that is horribly ableist. There are real people, including myself, who communicate that way. All I see constantly is how we need more verbal diversity with autistic characters- you just got some! I suppose it wasn't as pretty as you'd like it to be.

It's not just being verbal all the time or non verbal all the time. Some people fall in the middle. And falling in the middle doesn't just mean "uwu I feel quiet right now please put flowers in my h air" it means jumbling your words and vomiting them all out. It means a normally bubbly chatty person not saying a single word. It means taking long breaks between sentences. And for a lot of us, that means relying on scripts and favored topics to verbalize. It means a million different things. 

It's not always pretty. It's not uwu Tumblr dot com aesthetic. It's serious shit and calling an autistic person dumb for how they communicate is ableism, I don't care if you're autistic. You're an asshole, and that's not the autism, it's you. You're the exact kind of people I ran away from on the playground. You're the exact kind of people I would never associate myself with, autism or not. 

Basically, the big picture here is, it doesn't matter who or what you are, I don't think any of us can say that every single (blank) character ever represents us. That's just not how it works. 

Do you think my neurotypical mother or sister can relate to every single neurotypical character they've ever seen? No. Do you think my family can relate to every single family we've ever seen? Definitely no. Do you think I've related to every autistic character I've ever come across? Absolutely, 100 percent no. 

It doesn't matter who you are, we are all different. We are all unique. And we all are just dying to be seen. If you make someone feel like shit for feeling seen, you're a dick, and that has nothing to do with your neurology or race or gender or anything of the sorts. Anyone can be a dick. 

I also am personally offended by the idea autistic people must be portrayed as average, "normal", basically neurotypical people. Is allistic passing a thing? Yes, of course. I'm an example of it! But I've seen people genuinely offended by the idea of an autistic person standing out and *gasp* achieving great things! Being successful and using your unique way of thinking to get you there is inspiration porn, I tell you!! Some autistic people can't do that so we can't offend them!! /sarcasm. Much like the majority of any term or word in the dictionary, this generation has found a way to take problems and meanings and take away from them, to the point I think we should just communicate in clicks like dolphins. 

Do you know how much autistic representation is centered around just being a regular person? Despite being a genius, the character I always bring up as bad representation was portrayed as your average teenage girl with a friend group, a boyfriend, and she was flirtatious and confident. Sam from Atypical is your stereotypical model teenage boy. In terms of what I would consider good representation- Billy from Power Rangers (which I haven't watched because I'm just not into that series, but from what I know, he's amazing) a super hero is also a (not so) typical teenager. He's messy, he makes mistakes, and he likes to have fun. Julia, from Sesame Street, doesn't really do anything spectacular. She's just a kid, she's an amazing artist for a young kid, but she's also just a "regular" kid who enjoys having friends and playing like anyone else, in her own Julia way. Abed from Community, which I've not yet to watch, but I've heard it's great and it's made by Dan Harmon who's autistic and great!!! is a regular college student who really likes pop culture. These are all canon autistic characters that are diverse, break the typical molds, and may or may not be good representation. And they also all tend to be ignored because diverse representation doesn't exist. Except it does, you just want to pick and choose. And that does a huge disservice to autistic people, people of color, or any other minority. 

And here's a question I ask- Why do so many people seem more offended at an autistic person being successful and achieving spectacular things than an autistic person disrespecting women and locking them in closets? Are we, as a society, so brainwashed by the message of stand in rather than stand out that the idea of an autistic person openly standing out is more offensive than one that's sexist but is pretty typical and average nonetheless? Are we so accustomed to the message autistic people cannot be better than a neurotypical person at anything that promoting that seems wild and wrong? 

Autism isn't always a superpower and not all of us are superheroes (see "The Accountant" which is about an autistic assassin, which isn't heroic at all. Or any of the representations I mentioned above) but isn't changing the narrative from mostly negative to a little more positive a step in the right direction? This isn't the only representation we'll ever get, but in my opinion, I'd much rather people think I'm capable of doing great things than think I'm capable of violence. This show isn't over the top with the positivity either, it's much more realistic than anything I've ever seen, but because there's positivity at all you don't even wanna give it a chance? I just don't understand the mindset. 

I saw someone say it was "harmful". Yes, ALL autistic people are being harmed right now. I'm so harmed that I see a positive example of an autistic person in a work setting, something I once thought was impossible due to the narratives I saw before. I'm so harmed to see things on my tv I never thought I'd ever see; Things about myself that I could never verbalize before but now can show people and educate them. I'm so harmed to see that standing out isn't always a bad thing, that maybe I'll always be the odd one out but that can be a VERY GOOD THING. Seeing just an hour of this already improved so much of the way I think about myself and the world around me. I was able to say "me too" in a way I don't get to a lot. I'm aware we've only seen one episode, but before you start assuming it's going to get worse, why not see it through. I am one to believe things can only go up. We had a downfall with representation, now we go up. This mindset may seem a little too optimistic, but it's gotten me through the darkest times in my life. And I've found that when I think it will only go up I've never been wrong. A little positivity can go a long way. But I'm not surprised that people are so afraid of positivity because we live in very negative times- This comment is coming to you from a pessimist leaning realist. 

My review of this show: It was incredible. But that is not gospel. Someone could watch this and hate every square inch of it. And guess what? That is a completely valid opinion and I respect it. But what isn't okay and valid is telling people how they should feel. You don't have to like this show because I like it, and likewise, you don't have to dislike it because another autistic person says to dislike it. You don't have to agree with every single autistic person, we have the same neurology, but for a majority of us, that's the only thing we have in common. Form your own opinions, and stick with them- The world needs free thinkers. The only thing I stress and beg of you, is you give this show a chance. Give any form of representation a chance. Even if it seems hopeless, even if it seems like just another tired portrayal, even if you're sure you won't like it. How will you know unless you give it a chance? I was so sure this show was going to suck and I wound up with one of the most beautiful pieces of representation. I could've missed out, and my philosophy is that I'd much rather regret something I did than something I didn't. I don't want to see anyone miss out. Please give it a chance before deciding it's horrible, because you may just be surprised. I think that's a good motto not just for this specific thing, but for life in general. I've been so afraid to try a new food and then I tried it and really liked it; Some of my favorite things were the things I was most afraid of. 

The famous quote "don't judge a book by its cover" is very true. If you're always looking at the cover instead of the story you're going to miss out on a lot. That is true for just about anything. 

So my stance on this is it was very good, and very flawed. But nothing is without flaws. Flaws don't take away from good things. 

Can we do better? Yes. Give me autistic girls, autistic people of color, LGBT+ autistics, all sorts of things. But don't put those things before the topic at hand- autism. 

This is a start, we bring something new to a overdone formula, then we change the formula, and we keep going from there. Much like building blocks. Representation is building blocks, and everyone will have their own opinion on the tower.

I think I said everything I wanted to say. Disagreed with anything? That's great! That means we're both humans with working brains. I'm totally open to respectful discussions about this, I love hearing different perspectives! 

Thank you for reading this post, it was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things after a little break. Hope you enjoyed and once again, these are just my thoughts, they don't represent anyone but me. You are totally open to your own thoughts and that is completely valid and fine! Isn't that the most wonderful part of being human? That we all get to think and see things in our own way :)

Thanks again for reading and I hope you're having a wonderful day, and if not, tomorrow is always another day! 



Thursday, August 24, 2017

One year ago (thank you)

One year ago.

One year ago I was a severely depressed, severely anxious kid struggling with emotional issues and self acceptance.

The walls around me would laugh at me, tell me I'd never see beyond them.

If you met me a year ago, I was someone completely different.

If you asked me if I saw myself being the proud owner of a blog that I've been told has changed lives? I'd tell you know.

I saw myself as a nobody. Someone who would grow up to be an even bigger nobody, or maybe wouldn't even grow up at all.

It wasn't death that I wanted, but a way for the things I was feeling to die. I wanted to go into hibernation; Have a little time to just disappear from the world. 

I felt so alone, so purposeless, and like there was the world and then there was me. I felt weird and I felt like everywhere I went there was this giant outline. I thought this was a bad thing.

I essentially had a mental breakdown. 24/7 was spent screaming and sobbing and hitting and kicking and breathing hard breaths and hurting myself because I didn't know how else to get out the extremely heavy hurt inside of me.

I would cry myself to sleep. I wouldn't even go outside, because everything out there petrified me. I felt like the world was out to get me and I was isolated and scared and miserable all the time. Happiness was a childhood fairytale, let alone contentment. 

But I wanted to get better. One year ago I wanted to get better.

We searched and typed and emailed and looked until our eyes were bloodshot and our fingers were rough and numb. 

One year ago I found a psychiatrist and started medication. 

It hasn't been a cure all, but it has leveled me.

My breaths became a little less heavy, my thoughts a little less calm. I went to bed at night with rarely damp eyes.

Writing has always been an outlet. From the time I was just little. From the time I was 9 years old and sick, and miserable, and trapped in a prison they called School where I never felt safe and I always felt I was deteriorating. But when I picked up a pencil the world stopped. When I typed how I felt a new one began. When I got it out, I was free.

I had contemplated being an advocate for a while. I was so discouraged at the astounding lack of autistic voices in the world. I knew they were there, but there were so few. So few people not silenced by the stigma.

For so long, I was silenced too.

And then one day something happened in me. Words began to bleed from my fingertips and I had to let it out. I wrote my story. 

One year ago I started reading fellow autistic people, I began to realize that weird is good. Autistic is amazing. And I am not alone. You are not alone.

Their voices helped me let out mine. And I saved that story, I saved it, and I waited for the right time.

One year ago, today. 

It began.

I made a little blog, decorated it nice, and I posted my story.

I didn't expect anymore than maybe one person to notice it, but that was enough for me. And I promoted my page, and I did what I could, thinking maybe if I didn't help anyone at least I might meet some people.

And I did. I did both.

A year.

A year of comments and friends and words that I'll never forget.

"You've given us a voice"

"You've helped me understand"

"I no longer feel alone"

Words that could've been mine to people I admire. I did that. You did that.

One year ago if you asked me if I saw myself where I am now, I'd tell you know. I didn't see myself as capable, I didn't see life as something that gets better.

I was right- Life doesn't get better, it doesn't get easier; But you get stronger. You walk through hell and suddenly you can walk through anything. 

Capable? Damn right you are. Shut out the voices, including and especially your own, telling you otherwise. They are nothing but lies. They are nothing but lies to slow you down because the world isn't ready for what you can do. So be it. Make them ready.

One year ago I was small.

And I still am small.

But sometimes all it takes is a pebble to make a ripple.

I am but one little ripple in an entire sea, but I have made something that is my own. And that means something to me.

You have a story? Tell it. Be a ripple.


Today I am open. Today I am proud.

Proud of the second family I call my own. Proud of the friends I've made who are some of the best I've ever had.

Proud at how far I've come. Because I've come so far.

Proud of what I've seen grow in a year. Change I've had the privilege to be a part of. 

Proud to be me.

I am weird, I am the farthest from normal one can be. That threatens people.

It threatened me.

I still walk with an outline around me. But because of it, I can see other people's outlines too. And I surround myself with those people.

It's those with outlines that truly make a mark. It's those without them that often grow jealous. You have something someone else does not. Embrace it, Gosh damnit. 

You are a spark, and not everyone can handle sparks. Because they're too bright or too loud or too, whatever. That is your gift. Your spark is what gives you an advantage, not a setback. 

It is those who do not understand that truly hold us back. Those who choose not to understand. 

They tell you no one is normal but they promote this idea that normal is so good.

They tell you to do one thing but then get mad when you don't do something else.

We were born speaking another language.

The one thing I wish I could tell everyone is that normal is a mirage.

The closer you get the more you realize how it never was real and you realize you wasted all this time.

There is something all around you and that is what you're meant to find.

You find your tribe, you find where you belong, you find your purpose.

We are all in this universe to find those things. Don't doubt that you won't, because I believe that we all do and we are all meant to. 

We are not meant to be alone. We are stars in a grand universe, how in the world could you feel alone?

There is someone for everyone, look for the outlines.

Embrace yours.

You will feel free.

You will realize you are not alone.

You never were.


I am surrounded.

I am proud.

I am free.

And I owe it all to you. 

I thank every single one of you, I see every single one of you. Each of you have made a permanent imprint on my heart. You've given me hope. You've shown me that, good goodness, I am here for a reason and I am seen and I may as well embrace that. I have a reason and I have a place to be, and I belong somewhere. We belong somewhere. 

Thank you. Words completely fail to say how thankful and full of love I am for you all of you. You are a home, a forever home, and no matter what I do with my life I owe it all to you. I will always do everything to represent all of you, to represent us. It's my duty, I owe it to you. 

You may be thanking me, but it is me who needs to thank you. You are the reason I am here. You have kept me going. All the little cracks in the middle I have been able to get out of. All because of you.

Today. I am free. I am surrounded. I am proud. I am here. 

Today I am somewhere I wasn't before and I love it. I love here. Here is home, and here is where I can finally be me. I am finally me. 

I am here.

I am autistic.



Thank you.