Saturday, April 15, 2017

Interview with Aria Sky- Autism Acceptance Day 2017

Interview with Aria Sky


My chosen name (pseudonym) is Aria Sky, I’m 34 years old this month, and I live in the USA. My husband is allistic (non-Autistic), we’ve been married for 13 years, and we have several children, of whom half are Autistic and half are allistic. My current interests are music, autism, history, sociology, and gardening. I try to blog fairly regularly and have been involved in gentle parenting circles for over a decade, which has helped a good deal as I’ve come to a greater understanding of my needs, as an Autistic adult, and the needs of my children, both Autistic and allistic.

What do want to say about autism that might help others understand better?

I think that it’s important to understand that we’re not really all that different from allistics. I still have thoughts and feelings even when I’m not able to express them, I agonize about what I might have done when I find out that I've upset someone even when I don’t know how to fix the situation, and I try my hardest to better understand both myself and others even when it’s difficult. I try to arrange my life in such a way that I can sufficiently recover from difficult social and sensory interactions with pleasant activities and extra rest.

What is the most joyful, fun, exciting thing about being Autistic? 

Some things I love that are affected directly by my being Autistic: Splashing barefoot in puddles, diving deeply into brand new interesting topics, reading old books with beautiful language, snuggling my stuffed dog, and having the ability to see past the culture in which I was raised so that I can make the best decisions for myself and my family without being held to any harmful traditions or “that’s just how we do things.” I love being quirky or different and doing what I want or need to do without feeling as though I need to be like everyone else. 

Most of all, I especially love knowing that I’m Autistic. It was much more difficult before I knew that about myself. It was such a large and vital piece of information to be missing from my understanding of myself.

What is most difficult about being Autistic, for you?

The not-knowing I was Autistic was the most difficult thing, I think. Misunderstandings with other people are very hard on me too. I wish that allistics would listen to what I say and not read into my words because then they assume I mean something completely different than what I actually said (and meant). My sensory issues are challenging and often painful as well. I wish that the world and the people within it were quieter and gentler so that it didn’t hurt so much to go out into it.

How has the Autism Acceptance Day/Month effort over the past seven years affected you personally? If you were not aware of it until recently, what meaning does Autism Acceptance Day/Month have to you now? 

In my case, having first really become aware of it last year, it's helped me with my own self-acceptance so that I stopped trying to change myself into someone I’m not and can never be. I hope that someday every Autistic person will be able to accept themselves and live as the wonderful people they are. I love the explosion of Autistic voices - both new writings and old ones being shared again - that I’ve seen both this and last April. I wish that I’d paid more attention to the April Acceptance Months in previous years. 

What does “moving beyond awareness” mean to you?

Well, to me, it means moving from awareness to more helpful things like acceptance, respect, and understanding - maybe even appreciation. I believe that those things can only really come from listening to what we say, learning from it, and believing us! Just being aware is such a passive thing that doesn’t really create any change. Of course, people need to be aware before they know that they need to listen to another perspective, but listening without acceptance and respect isn’t going to get anyone very far towards understanding or appreciation of that other perspective either. 

What is one thing about acceptance that would make a difference in the world? 

People would stop trying to change us and would stop pressuring us to change ourselves to fit their ideas of what people should be like. We’d have extra energy that we could use to focus on being the best Autistic people we could be and to make the world an even better place for everyone.

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