Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Being an Asian American and a female with autism

I never written about my experiences about what's it like being both a woman and a person of color on the autism spectrum.  But I think it's a topic that's important as both females and ethnic minorities are vastly underrepresented in the autism community.  There is also less talk of how these identities intersect and how the experiences and perceptions of autism are different due to intersectionality.  Let me start by saying that I am one of the few Asian American women (or part of an ethnic minority groups for that matter) who is very active in the autism community.  Most of the self-advocates I know are white.  While I am happy that there are autism self advocates who can tell their story, I feel sad at the same time that there aren't so many others with intersecting identites (e.g. being part of an ethnic minority group and a woman) out there telling there stories.  In addition to my personal experiences with being autistic,  I had to deal with marginalization both as being part of an Asian American but also being a female and the negative stereotypes associated with it.  I never really thought that hard about these identities until I started taking college classes that dicuss marginalization due to both gender and race.  This is when I began thinking deeply about how these statuses began affecting my life.   The vast majority of people on the autism spectrum that I personally know are mostly male.  I can honestly say that the boys with autism are different from me in terms of interests and the way autism is express.   I sometimes wished I knew more girls on the autism spectrum and that interventions for people on the autism spectrum had a component of emotional support instead of being ( there will be a future blog post of what I mean by this in the future) based on just learning skills.    I also have to deal with stereotypes associated with traditional gender roles that  conflicts with my autism like being into fashion and trends and the expectation that I have to be social.  Having autism, social interactions are hard because of my social anxiety and I am also an introvert (another post on this will be discussed later).  Since girls and women are expected to be social, it is hard to conform to this stereotype and the negative perceptions that I would viewed as cold and uncaring for not conforming.  

Now I will discuss my view of autism in terms of my race.  I cannot speak about the African American or Latino perspectives since I don't have much knowledge  about those two ethnic minority groups but I will talk about the Asian American perspective on autism spectrum disorder.  What I am aware is that the Asian American community tends to be silent when it comes to special needs which include autism.  They tend to not want to get involved in the autism community because it's a sign of personal shame and all about the honor system.    The reason why I am so open about my diagnosis is because my parents were not the typical Asian family.  My mother was involved in numerous autism groups and was dedicated to making sure I got the best interventions and services that will help me thrive.   However where my Asian American identity intersects with my identity of having autism is that I want to be very open about my condition but at the same time the Asian American community (especially the Japanese American community) is not very open and accommodating about my disability.  This is why I maintain sort of distance from the Asian American community.  These stories of double marginalization in addition to the autism diagnosis are seldomly shared and how the expectations due to one's race and gender can conflict with autism and how it is hard to identify with people of either groups because they don't share the same experiences.  I am happy that I can share both my experiences of being a woman and a person of color on the autism spectrum.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A very interesting article

I was looking through facebook today and found that one of my friends shared an article.  Link attached here:

When reading this article, I had a lot of mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I sympathize with   this individual and his frustrations of being stuck at El Camino College (a community college).  Going through college, I too have been frustrated with the lack of services and supports and the demands of college academic work.  On the other hand, I don't want people to come to the conclusion that autism is linked to violent behavior.  What was particularly disturbing about this piece was that he attributed his autism to him making violent statements. I am concerned  that when people read this article, they might think just that.  In the past, people have made faulty conclusions when reading articles involving a shooter that the autism caused these guys to shoot.    I just want to let people know that most people on the autism spectrum are not violent.  This guy clearly has some other mental illness along with autism.  For me, I am afraid of guns, violence, shooting and blood etc.  I am afraid of weapons especially knives and don't have the coordination to use a gun or knife.  Most of the people on the autism spectrum I personally know are not violent individuals.  Thus, it is important to look at each individual on the autism spectrum as a unique individual and that this is an isolated incident.  Another thing that needs to be taken away from this article is that there needs to be more support services for adults on the autism spectrum especially for those who are in college or on the milder end of the spectrum.  I cannot tell you enough how many times I have felt frustrated, depressed, lonely and anxious throughout my five and a half years in adulthood because of lack of support services that meet my needs.  How I got through is that I got creative (will talk more about these methods in future posts).   If this guy got the help he needed that would help him realize his potential, this incident might not have happened in the first place.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My first blog post and introduction

Hi All!

This is my first blog post documenting my life and challenges with autism.  I always wanted to write a blog and actually started a couple times but wasn't sure how if I can keep up with followers and how I can have people comment on my blog posts.  Now that I have some time since I am out of school,  I want to restart a blog to document on my experiences and my opinions as a young woman with autism in her early 20's.
 To talk a little bit about myself, I am a 23 year old (almost 24) young adult who was diagnosed with autism at the age of four.  I graduated high school in 2010, and attended community college for three years before transferring to a four year university in 2013.  I recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology in December 2015 and now am embarking on the road to future employment and figuring out how to structure my free time.  Going through college and adulthood has not been easy as I had to deal with the loss and lack of adequate support services.  There were times that I have faced periods of isolation, anxiety and depression during the last five and a half years of college.  However I was able to persevere and manage to get through all these hardships to obtain my degree.

 This blog will cover a variety of topics pertaining to my current life such as college, adulthood, friendships, getting a job, and employment. I also will discuss my life in the past such as my high school years and middle school years.   The purpose of writing this blog and being a self-advocate is to redefine what's normal in society's terms and to challenge the prevailing norms.