My name is James Fahey. I'm 42 and I live in Bundoora, a suburb of Melbourne, I live fully independently of my family, and have done for most of the past 23 years. I require, and demand, no assistance from ANYBODY to help me live my life. If I need help I'll ask for it, but don't hold your breath. There are also times to bite your tongue, and times to speak your mind. I am capable of both, but here it is time for the latter.
Sometimes I feel like I'm wandering around in a parallel dimension, where I can see everyone else but they can't see me. Animals can see me, but not people. Many years ago I had a boss who was a former Aussie Rules footballer, at the top level in the 70's. He told a story, which you can take with a grain of salt if you wish, of a former indigenous team-mate who would take advantage of his dark skin during night games. These were the days when night games were a novelty, and the lighting often would not cover the whole ground. Supposedly, apocryphal or not, this man would roll around in the mud prior to the game, so his clothes and skin made him difficult to see in the shadows. He would then roam the darkness waiting for the ball to approach, run into the light, take two step and kick a goal, then disappear again before the opposition knew what was happening. True or not, this is a reasonable analogy of how I often feel when I'm out in public. I am unseen and anonymous. I see all, but am seen by no one. But then an action is required. A thought from a perspective others hadn't considered, or a push to safety from a threat others didn't see coming. Suddenly I'm in the thick of it. The life of the party. But in an instant I'm gone, back into the darkness. Back to my world, where I see you and you don't see me. A world removed from human contact, but with animal friends aplenty. A world I love, more than anywhere else.
Puberty was a particularly difficult time for me. It was the only period of my life where I experienced loneliness and depression. But since both those manifestations ended with puberty, one can surmise they were representative only of puberty and not of autism.
I was not aware of it until recently, but there are good reasons for this. Autism has become a gravy train for many non-Autistics who have vested interests in painting it and us a particular way - possibly the most profitable gravy train in the world today - and a political football for governments to kick around. It has become a multi-billion dollar business, but very little of that goes to assisting Autistics themselves. Indeed one of the most prominent autism charities spends more of their enormous budget on catering (and wages, and just about everything else) than they do on programs to ease the lives of those they claim to represent. And many of these organisations actively discourage, if not outrightly prohibit, Autistics voices from being heard. So with this in mind, it is hardly surprising I've ignored these initiatives in the past.