Monday, April 3, 2017

Interview with Mandy Klein- Autism Acceptance Day 2017

Interview with Mandy Klein for Autism Acceptance Day 7!

My name is Mandy Klein.  I am 46 years old and live in Ontario, Canada.  I’m married to an autistic man and we are parents to an autistic teenager. We have several pets at home, including dogs, a cat, birds, fish, a tortoise, and a snake.  I enjoy riding horses.  It’s fun and also great for my sensory needs.  I have been a blogger for several years now, but I am finding it hard to blog as much as I would like.  I have a strong interest in autism, especially in regards to acceptance and support.

What are some things about being Autistic that stand out, that you would like to tell people about?

Being autistic helps me to see and think about things differently to non-autistic people.  If non-autistic people are thinking about a problem and can’t solve it, sometimes someone who sees things differently can be the one to solve it.  Another usually good thing about my autism is that once I have an idea in my head, I don’t give up until it is done.  For example, the autism symposium I helped plan.  It took about two years from start to finish but it happened and was successful.

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

I like that I have a different brain that makes it so that I develop and think differently than non-autistic people.  Most non-autistics seem to be so worried about doing things age appropriately and yes, I was brought up that way.  I always wondered why I still wanted to read books from my youth and to play with certain toys.  Now, I know that that is just who I am and I am allowing myself to be free to do the things I like, even if they are not ‘age appropriate’.  I find it exciting to give in to some of my sensory stims, like staring at flashing lights on a toy or at a certain colourful screensaver.  I know that bothers many other autistic people, but I am one who loves it, especially if I can control it.  On the other hand, going to a show with strobe lights can cause a panic attack. 

What is the most difficult about being Autistic, for you? [totally optional. I just do not want to limit people to saying “fun” things.]

The most difficult part about being autistic is my communication differences.  That problem is mainly because we are not an accepting society.  I either can’t talk or I mess it up.  Writing and using text-to-speech are so much better but they are discouraged in many places, especially if people know that I can talk part time.  Communication affects my interacting so I avoid a lot of interaction.  It causes much anxiety.  Anxiety is not part of autism but many of us have it.  If we could truly be ourselves and get the support we need, we would be a lot less anxious. 

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? 

Autism Acceptance Day/Month has helped me to grow as an autistic person.  I read many other autistic people’s writing about their autism and I learn things on an ongoing basis.  I will think I am at a place of totally accepting myself and I will find a small hidden part which has not been accepted yet.  It helps me to allow myself to be me. I was taught by family, teachers, co-workers to act a certain way and that was to cover up my autistic ways.  Those are slowly being freed.  I look forward each year to reading other stories and learning more about others and myself. 
What does “moving beyond awareness” mean to you?
To me, it means that most people are already aware.  Awareness has made many people fear and dread autism, especially with all of the so called ‘facts’ and figures and burden language that come from big agencies etc.  It is time to bring in acceptance.  We are here; we’re not going anywhere.  So, it is time to learn the truth about autism and to allow us to be ourselves.  Listen to what autistics need and want. 

What is one thing about acceptance that would make a difference in the world? [or more than one thing if you want!]

If everyone accepted us, there would be less fear- on the part of autistics and non-autistics.  We could spend time learning about and enjoying each other instead of autistics being fearful and un-well because people are trying to force us to change and fix us.  We could do things together, looking out for the needs of each other as ourselves- autistic and non-autistic.

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