If you believe the media, I do not exist.
My story is not one you see told in the movies. There aren’t books written about me. TV ignores me unless I’m solving crimes. There aren’t feature stories written about me. Even my iPhone follows the word autistic with terms only relating to children.
I am an autistic adult and I am the great phantom of the discussion about autism.
Autistic adults are a subject that seems bafflingly taboo in the media. Almost without fail every depiction of us is as children. If we do exist, it’s as an oddity or a joke. There’s never one of us that just happens to be autistic. We’re unreal.
There are a lot of reasons for this. It’s hard to ignore that autistic adults are kind of a new phenomenon. The media has only known us as severe cases after all. The generation I belong to is just really solidifying. It’s not that surprising the media can’t adjust to us.
There’s also the fact that if we’re living our lives well, we’re not that different from others. We have our special experiences but we’re not nearly as dramatic as our lives are as children. We’re just living lives. Can’t blame the media for disinterest.
But there’s another troubling reason I think we’re ignored. The sad truth is adulthood is linked with agency. We don’t have agency in our stories. Our stories must be filtered through others eyes. Who better than our parents to provide that? Hence we get waves of stories focused on our childhood. We aren’t allowed to tell our stories.
This has to change. It has to change because the autistic children need to know there is a future. They need to know they can have a perfectly happy adult life. This gives them a sense of hope.
The only way to change it is to tell our stories. If we are speaking, we will be heard. We won’t be invisible then.