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(Not free) Prize in every box

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:52pm
Alas, all was not well. Alas, what an interesting word that is. I stopped to perseverate on it. But something had to be done. "Research" had turned out to be a code word used by the eugenics movement. What they had in mind was using a combination of science, pseudoscience and fear to make sure no more people with brains like mine would be born. I checked the calendar. Yes, this was the 21st century. Alas, it was. This was the United States of America, too. How could it be that a group was getting away with saying a whole category of people needed to be eliminated? How were they fooling so many people? How could the government go along with this? How could my tax dollars and those of other so-called non-productive autistic citizens be used to support this Combating Autistics Act?
What could I do? I was a prep cook in a restaurant. I hated politics and avoided it like the...well you know. I'd never finished my bachelor's degree; it seemed unlikely there was anything useful I could do.

Only now I knew better. I knew because of the "label". Without it, I never would have found a community of others like myself, who together were beginning to make a difference. Having a word for the way I was had changed everything. It had made me responsible.
I went back to school. I started to talk to people about autism, what it means to me, what it is and what it isn't. I started to deal with the box I had never known existed. This is only the start of my story, escape from the first in a possibly infinite series of nested boxes.
In December, I will graduate with a degree in social work. My plan is to continue in graduate school, specializing in advocacy, public education efforts and (legitimate) research. I have a research grant for the summer to study the needs of autistic college students from their own perspectives. I hope to follow the example of others, like Michelle Dawson, in making a contribution to the literature which promotes fair and objective thinking from an autistic viewpoint. Finding out about autism, I found a sense of direction and purpose. Is this in-the-box or out-of-the-box thinking? Alas, I can't answer that. There are still many flakes to be dealt with. I have already gotten the prize.
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