Come As You Are: An Autistic’s Perspective
Trigger Warning: Self-Harm
These thoughts… these four words, the phrase, “Come as you are, ” they’ve been circulating around in the back of my mind for the past three weeks now. It’s been becoming more constant, as I sit here, late morning coffee in hand and an hour and a half since I’ve taken the routine medication for my severe ADHD that I have had since childhood (doesn’t help that there’s been a massive shortage of these types of medications, inconsistent quality as well). It’s been becoming more constant, the struggles of keeping myself from doing something impulsive that I’ll probably later regret, just struggling in holding off from wanting to smash my head against the wall, bite others, or crying silently whilst lying on the frigid linoleum tiling of bathroom floor, but that’s not why you’re reading this (and besides, I’ve been racking my brain for three hours now to type out this blog post already, cursing myself out loud because try as hard as I might, I wasn’t able to cohesively put together even an brainstorming outline to plan ahead). What’s really helped me through these hard times is nature. Sunshine. And knowing that these hard times will pass, too. Sunshine, and video games.
Sorry for that tangent, readers. Though, maybe it does lead into the theme of Autism Acceptance Month and “Come as you are”. If you’ve been a long-time reader of the blog, you might remember that I’ve curated several contributions to The Autism Blog over the last decade, so I’m not exactly new at this. However, I’m distracted by everything and trying to just let it be, without punishing myself, or at the very least not as harshly. Trust me when I say that coming as I am certainly is a lifelong process.
Ya know what, how about I update you all on my positive aspects of my progress as an autistic living in a world that is clearly still, in the year two-thousand and twenty-three, not made for them? Look, I’m not dismissing or downplaying the unbelievably harsh days and moments of sensory peril, inattention, emotional dysregulation, deep depression, spatial unawareness, and all-around executive functioning challenges inherent to co-existing alongside neurodevelopmental and related disabilities. Not even close. Describing the intricacies of why I feel like I’m failing at “Come as you are” would take many pages of background and context, and I wish to respect your time. Let’s move on, then, shall we?
Continuing onto the updates to my life since my last blog during the early weeks of COVID, my life has generally changed for the better. I have since graduated college, from the UW, in the area of Maternal and Child Health, through the LEND program that further specializes in treating co-occurring conditions associated with I/DD and focusing on bettering the lives of individuals with these conditions. Took over 600 hours of didactic, clinical, and educational training, but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t proud of myself for accomplishing that. In addition, I’ve gone from being a student at the Alyssa Burnett Center, to an employee of Seattle Children’s Hospital ABC staff, working on the other side of the window, so to speak. I also teach and lecture postgraduate-level curriculum as Self-Advocate Faculty in the LEND program at the UW Medical Center main campus in Seattle. Last, but not least, I am part of the core ECHO hub team for ECHO Washington Autism/WAINCLUDE, which is closely related to UW CHDD and LEND. There, I work with other healthcare professionals from all walks of life, in an interdisciplinary team of providers virtually, to connect with other providers in the state and to teach best practices and share everyone’s knowledge about how we can all best serve the most marginalized groups and communities of individuals with I/DD.
Also, I want to point out that there have been major advances in committing to letting people come as they are. I can’t think of a better example of this than the Alyssa Burnett Center. Even if I am not feeling my best, it means everything to me to be able to work in an environment where my co-workers will take the time to check up on me, ask what I need, and for that, I am very grateful. Also, I’m allowed to stand and move around while working, provide large-print physical copies on needed documents, and stim in all the many ways I might need concentrate and regulate my sensory issues. Students can also come as they are. Everyone is welcome to come as they are to the ABC, so much so that the students even made their own acronym for it called RISE (Respect, Include, Support, Enjoy). It’s awesome!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you, reader. I’m happy you stayed until the end. I just wish I feel like I had my own version of accepting myself, letting myself come as you are. I’m working on that, but everything takes time. With that, until next time!
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health related crisis, call or text 988. You can also visit 988Lifeline.org to connect with a trained crisis counselor who can help.