Today I perused the New York times as I do on most Sundays. My ritual is occupying a chair at Dancing Goats Coffee after meditation. It’s calming and I really like the cheese and herb scone. On this Sunday I run across an opinion article, Adult, Autistic and Ignored, how fortuitous. This backs up one purpose for making ASPIE Girls which is what happens when kids with autism grow up?
Each of my friends that I’ve followed over the years is an adult with Aspergers syndrome and functioning as an adult without parental or family support is not only difficult, but sometimes dangerous. Aging parents are left with securing a way to make sure that their Aspie adult child will be in a good situation when they can no longer care for them.
With the growing population of people on the autism spectrum, I think it is society that really needs to pay it forward to take care of adults with autism.
Social awkwardness does not mean non-social. The desire to have friends and be social exists for many people with Aspergers Syndrome. Rejection, teasing and feeling out-of-place colors past social situations and a fresh start is constantly on the horizon. Mame loves the idea of having friends and a thriving social life. Each year she mounts a party for her Asperger’s group and can happily be herself.
A fresh start is embedded into our psyches. Articles about reinvention encourage us to become the “best me” or “another me”. We seek to leave the past behind and begin again. Is that really possible? Maybe enjoying those moments when we can open up our personalities without editing is what we seek.
I could wax on for days about the beauty of Mame’s intricate visual art. Viewing it will eclipse anything thing that I would write. So instead, enjoy and comment.
View Mame’s artwork
Louise’s statement, “We won’t stay children forever, nor do our children remain babies forever?” speaks to the heart of the ASPIE Girls documentary series. Aspies are considered high functioning on the autism spectrum, but that doesn’t mean that they can lead independent lives. The nature of their executive functioning varies and is inconsistent.
I’ve read hopeful stories of successful lives of Aspies. The outstanding element in the stories is the socio-economic standing of these individuals. Wonderful programs exist at a high-ticket price; wealthier families can create a life long situation tailored to their family member who is autistic. The vast majority of autistic adults aren’t as fortunate. Parents worry over what will happen to their adult child when they are no longer around to provide care. The public programs are limited and not particularly resourceful.
Strong consistent advocacy is needed to tend to the growing number of autistic adults. The life expectancy in the United States is 77 years old, which means that people are adults much longer that they are children. We must plan affordable communities for Aspies to live and contribute to society.
Navigating relationships and developing a social circle comes with ease for some and is deliberate work for others. Aspies tend to fall in the latter category. The heart wants what it wants and the desire to connect with others is what the human heart wants.
They way these women handle socialization sheds a light for me about my unconscious approach to relationships and connecting with others in settings such as work, friendships, dating or lack thereof. I may not be as deliberate and possess a higher comfort level, but still I am instinctively working through the concerns that they voice.
What is the norm? The idea of not being normal means you have to fit in somewhere; have definition or a label. As with many people on the autism spectrum, arriving at a diagnoses can be a circuitous route. Once it’s all sorted out you will enter the disability world.
Michelle Tilghman- Hawkins works for a government agency for people with disabilities. Because of her son and working for the agency, she has become an advocate for parents and those with autism.
Louise Thundercloud is an Aspie and activist. Her 35 year old daughter is autistic and currently a ward of the state. Louise is fighting to free her daughter from an abusive situation.
Mame N’Diaye is a visual artist. Her work is has spiritual underpinnings and is a channel for her visions. It is admired by all who lay eyes on her work. Mame’s resolve is to garner monetary value equal to the time, effort and talent that goes into her art. As with many artists, the challenge is making a living from creative endeavors.