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August 31, 2011 / Julia

On Being Articulate

They say I’m articulate.

(I think about all the words that stay locked in my throat, and I give a small and terrified smile and look over their shoulder and into nothing at all.)

I’m really quite lucky I have such a command of language.

(There are maybe five people in the whole wide world I can talk to face-to-face without wanting to die, without having a panic attack, without needing to hurt myself or sleep for hours afterward. Two of them receive speech therapy. None of them obey the usual laws of dialogue. I know that, really, I’m lucky to have anyone at all.)

My verbal agility is a sign of something, they’re sure.

(When I’m trapped into a conversation in the kitchen of someone else’s home, I stare at the table and see nothing at all, and my throat closes and my ears ring and the world is small and distant and hot and I am agile because adrenaline alters our capabilities.)

I’m really quite social.

(If I am asked how are you I will always say fine. If you ask me anything at all I will throw as many words as I can in your general direction. I can have quiet hands but the loudest mouth, I’m very advanced, and for my next trick I’ll even ask what’s up with you.)

I can answer every question you might ever have.

(Except for what do you need or how do you feel or do you want anything or is this okay.)

I can request independently and answer yes-no questions reliably.

(I can request independently because I never make requests, which means independence, which means I must not have to but I could if I did, right? But if you ask me if I need help I will say no, and if you ask, as my hands fly around my ears and my shoulders go tight and small, if I’m okay, I will say yes because I can’t say no and if I could it would mean more talking and less space and I will say anything at all to get you to go away until my brain is my own again.)

I am verbose and prosaic in my speech.

(I am as helpless to stay silent when you speak to me as I am to move when I need to do laundry. I freeze, staring at my dirty clothes, and every cognitive break I own clamps down because I can’t, because there are too many steps, because this has been the Summer Of Laundry Wars and I have lost. But there are no steps at all in unhinging my jaw and going somewhere very far away and echoing, echoing, reciting and remixing scripts about Why I’m Not In School and What I Did This Summer and Why We Deserve Human Rights until the tape runs out.)

I have such a good grip on the English language.

(And such a poor grip on reality, going somewhere still and quiet and out of my head while my mouth turns tricks for you.)

I’m never told I’m impolite or out of place or off script.

(Bad, too serious, perseverative, disconnected, hateful, boring, too enthusiastic, dogmatic, of course. All of those. And that’s just for talking about a show I like, without even stepping on anyone’s toes. For being happy, for getting excited about something, for trying to share. For saying something that wasn’t an answer to a question. But everything’s fine, and I’m very polite, I’m very well trained.)

I can say whatever you ask of me.

(I’m very obedient.)

I’m an Acceptable Autistic.

(I never disagree with you to your face, and you’ll probably never hear about it because the gore in my stomach when you tell me I must be very high-functioning gets pulled down by the fear of quiet hands and you must not understand and I know putting yourself in other people’s shoes is hard for you.)

I’m a Forgettable Autistic.

(As a child, I didn’t cry when I broke my wrist, which meant I didn’t feel pain. I read about social skills when I was bullied, so I wasn’t mistreated. I didn’t cry when I was abused, so it wasn’t abuse. Now, I tell you it’s fine and I walk away, and maybe I sat in a hallway for two hours the other week, unable to remember how to stand, but I can tell you I’m fine so I must be.)

I’m articulate.

(So you don’t have to listen.)


Leave a Comment
  1. Jessica 'AJ' LeClerc / Sep 19 2011 5:53 am

    oh my gosh, i just commented on your disabled vs. different post, but seriously i am a little bit mindblown because i was going to USE the phrase “acceptable autistic” but then i was not sure if you would understand, so i went to find it to link it to you, and YOU WROTE IT TOO. seriously you are just amazing at finding everything i want to say, and making it into words. ❤

  2. starbursteyes / Dec 21 2014 6:17 pm

    I’m crying now because the truth hurts. It hurts because I’ve watched as my son’s jaw has clenched, the words and emotions swirling within him like a tornado all twisted and fierce, unable to slow it all down, unable to make cohesive sentences about how he’s really feeling. Saying he’s fine to the person asking when I know he’s not. Removing him from that place and time, and holding safe space for him to just be without any expectations, but full of unconditional acceptance and love. I know how much it hurts to see him overloaded, it hurts only because I know it hurts him. If you are okay with it, I’d like to share this piece to help others better understand what it means to BE the person experiencing life as you do.

  3. starbursteyes / Dec 21 2014 9:26 pm

    Reblogged this on Behind starburst eyes and commented:
    Because the truth of how a person can feel needs to shared…

  4. Rob / Dec 22 2014 2:17 am

    i was in my mid thirties when I was finally diagnosed with aspergers, for me it was an explanation for so much of my life, as well as the key to understanding my father. Sure I had one of the highest sat scores in the country when I took them in 6th grade, later earned my bachelors with cum laude honors while working 50-60 hours a week and had time to volunteer as a coach for special Olympics , I also dropped out of high-school and got my ged a few years later. Far to many years have been lost feeling like a rocket burning itself out on the launchpad. As an adult @nearly forty not much has really changed.
    I am able to articulate at least some of my thoughts and therefore the notion that there are places I need help are used against me.

  5. peach / Dec 22 2014 3:08 am

    I think I hear my boy.

    • peach / Dec 22 2014 4:23 am

      Is there a way to pin this post? I would love to have it at hand to pass along. Thank you.

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