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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Interview with Lisa Richard- Autism Acceptance
I am interviewing Lisabeth Richard. Although some times I change the interview questions a bit to make it sound like we are talking back and forth, Lisa's writing style is so direct and forthright that I am just going to keep my basic questions intact and let her responses speak for themselves.
Lisa, what would you like to say to introduce yourself?
I find myself always having to say where I’m from as if it really does define my life, Brooklyn, NYC is my home and has my heart. I am the oldest of three children and for the most part I feel I carry the weight of my family on my unstable shoulders. I had a rocky relationship with my father and an unbreakable bond with my mother. Now at 26 my mother has passed away and I’m trying to rebuild my relationship with my father one step at a time. In the past I’ve used drugs to try and calm my brain and it almost lead to my death on more than one occasion. I’ve been sober now for three years and I now have my own little family with my guy and our 10 month old son. Life is getting better, slowly.
What is your life like as an Autistic person?
Life is quite interesting to say the least. I see the world differently. I pick up on things no one else notices while being completely blind to some of the more obvious things. In the past this had led to a lot of issues. As a young child who didn’t really understand herself I related better to Anne Rice’s vampires rather than humans. To this day I still see myself as more of a vampire than a human. I like it that way,
What do you think is the most difficult about being Autistic?
By far the most difficult thing I live with is my inability to properly express my emotions and thoughts. Since I was little I would tell people “There are no words for these feelings”. Normies just don’t understand. In a close second is my inability to adapt to social situations. I become overwhelmed and upset at a bar or club or party. I tend to have meltdowns in social groups, which just leads to more social incompatibility, it’s frustrating to say the least.
What is the most joyful, fun, exciting thing about being Autistic?
The way I take in the world around me. It often leads to trouble but it doesn’t make me change my perception. I can see innocence where others don’t, or better recognize how a persons trials and tribulations have affected who they are today and look past that and see what I perceive to be who they truly are inside. I also find myself forgiving things much more readily than others which again leads to problems but I don’t mind so much.
How has the Autism Acceptance Day/Month effort over the past three years affected you personally?
It started out as something that made me quite joyful. Growing up, autism was not a common word. The only point of reference was RainMan and it would get frustrating when people would say “Well you’re not like that character so I don’t believe you.” I was hopeful at first that a day set aside for awareness or acceptance would help the public at large better understand but sadly it doesn’t help as much as I had hoped. But I am hopeful that in the years to come more people like me will look to this day and stand up for themselves and speak for themselves and the ones that cannot and we will stand together and say “You do not Speak for me, I speak for myself”.
What is one thing about acceptance that would make a difference in the world?
Thousands of people are walking around today trying to be forced to fit into a world we were not made for. I can only hope with all my heart the future generations of children will not be raised to believe they have to be changed or cured or adapt to please others. I hope that acceptance will truly mean that we can be allowed to grow and develop at our own pace, unhindered by medications and disapproving teachers/doctors/parents. We should be allowed to be proud of our differences instead of hiding them away from an often miseducated public. Acceptance means being able to be myself without worry that people will think less of me.
Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your life and thoughts with us. I, too, am hopeful that Autistics can look forward to this day in the future and that acceptance will be the norm rather than a somewhat radical idea.