🌈E X P R E S S I V E #autism
“You’re doing too much.”
“You be doing the most.”
“You’re a lot.”
“Why are you so extra?”
“You shouldn’t have asked that.”
“Did you just say that?!”
“Sit down, Kris.”
“Tone it down.”
“Your posts are too long.”
“You’re too old to be using rainbows.”
“That’s just Karissa.”
“Relax your face.”
Conformity was never my cup of tea. I’ve sipped several times, but it never tasted quite right. Typically, that lukewarm bitterness always found itself spat out.
I couldn’t deal with the box. It never fit.
However, because of my “packaging” I got away with a lot. Yes, because of how I look and my language, I never got evaluated, never showed severe enough signs to even be suspected. Why? Mimicking. Modeling. Copying. Con. Form. Ing.
Never found out I was on the autism spectrum until the age of 33. I’m talking months ago, y’all. Never had a clue.
Throughout my life, I watched and studied everyone and tried to appear #normal—whatever that is; I tried to blend in.
•from my tantrums in front of the tv (Dad shut that down before he went on leave to Alaska #DoItOneMoTime)
•naked streaks in the home (got to pick that up when he left and it was just all girls)
•cussing volcano (ask my brother KaDar or my sisters about that one day.)
•disdain for eggs, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, grits
•shyness mixed with stuttering
•bouncing a little extra while my sisters and I sang
•sensitivity to certain materials, textures, jewelry, scents, and ingredients
all proved that I couldn’t just blend in. Apparently it didn’t phase me too much.
However, my stimming emerged in different ways. Sophisticated stimming is what I now call it.
I learned how to manage it. Learned how to cope.
Part of my coping with my #extraness happened through various activities and from childhood until now.
Odyssey of the Mind
Free Spirit Show Choir
Clubs, offices, councils and societies galore
Souls A Fire Gospel Choir
Frontline at ORU
Songwriting in seconds
Speedy Math Skills
Learning “foreign” languages
State Praise Dance Choreographer
Exploring all seven continents
and those are just a few that helped me #LetItOut.
So if you came into my life mid-song, I must share: the treble and bass that God put in my soul ain’t going nowhere.
I’ve learned that my sophisticated stimming allowed me to “blend in” in this world. However, I’m interested in raising awareness about the autism SPECTRUM. Not just one side. All. Of. It. It is deep and diverse. After counsel and evaluations galore, I’ve been congratulated and celebrated for this discovery.
Let me be clear: I am not an expert. I am not a licensed medical professional. I chose Special Education as my major for three years. I changed it and graduated with a BA in International Community Development with two concentrations in Special Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. I’m challenged to search and study more now. Back in the day, girls easily got overlooked because of their social skills. Just look up “Autism in Females: How is It Different?” on YouTube. I cried through it because it was all me. Thanks to Special Education teacher Kelsey at G. Stanley Elementary for introducing me to that video. Thanks to Darius for telling me about Temple Grandin. What an inspiration!
Will I be the voice for non-verbal autistic peeps? Absolutely not. They, in fact, have their own voices. WE simply have to listen to HOW they speak.
I look forward to sharing my voice and journey about how I functioned WITHOUT the label for 32 years.
Slap the autistic label on a child; no problem. Just make sure that when you explain autism to a child—if you dare—you explain that they carry superpowers, are genius in their own way, and that YOU are willing to WORK to draw out the genius, to fan their flame, to exercise extreme patience, and to respect them enough to study and learn them.
One of the key elements of blackness is resilience. So on this seventh day of Black History Month, I can’t help but applaud this little resilient girl who used a combo of faith, fire, and imagination to get to this point. I applaud my mother for helping me figure out some things and make modifications for me knowing my challenges, but not my diagnosis. She got me the right creams, gave me instruments, non-nickel jewelry, and didn’t force things in my diet like dairy. I applaud my father for influencing me to suppress the tantrums. I applaud him for being the only living parent to say these words: “Yep, I could see that. It makes sense. I’ve always told you that you were a genius.” I applaud those who fanned my flame. I applaud the teachers who told me I was gifted and special.
I applaud those who laughed at me; I also admonish them to stop the madness; I challenge them to look at the gifts in a person with curiosity instead of judgment; I nudge them closer to research instead of ridicule; I push them nearer to advocacy instead of teasing.
P. S. If you’re looking for a diagnosis as an adult, it may be difficult, but the best place to start is in the school district in your area. They can direct you accordingly. You can also look up autism groups in your state or region. They’re rising up now more than ever.
#Rom12v2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”