Autistic

Congratulations, your partner is autistic!

I knew you could do it, he says.

It seems silly in retrospect how utterly terrified I was.
Except it wasn’t.

The words I feared,
“We do not believe you fit the criteria for autism spectrum disorder,”
Resounded around my ears as I slept.
Potential invalidation, so present
Doubt entered my mind.
I ceased to find comfort in the term.

Autistic.
I am autistic.
I have a lovely piece of paper now saying it’s so.

You know what I want to do now?
I want to rock back and forth and shake my hands and shout
I was already autistic.
I was autistic this whole fucking time.

My head is buzzing as I write these words and the tune is coming to a crescendo
as I think of all the times as a child I stared in the mirror and practiced my smile
and desperately, desperately tried to suppress my flapping arms when I felt unsuppressed joy.

I am not autistic because a piece of paper pronounced me so.
I am not autistic because a doctor determined I fit the guidelines.
I am autistic because I like to touch my own arm hair, because it makes my skin happy,
and because I cover my ears at loud noises and when a pretty noise comes my way I start singing.
I am autistic because the ringing in my ears can only be counteracted by a low hum in my chest.
I am autistic because I like to touch my lovers’ faces, caressing their eyelids and poking foreheads.
I am autistic because I am viscerally human in my own way, in a way that feels and looks other.
And I am other. And I exist in brilliant light.

Mara Passio
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