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Living With Autism

[This article was originally posted on my Substack.]

Autistic and proud

To my surprise, people like my work enough to subscribe, so I guess a proper introduction is in order. I’m a very boring person in real life, so I won’t waste the reader’s time by talking about my personal affairs. I will instead talk about the condition I have: autism. I don’t really have an outline for this, so expect a lot of stream of consciousness.

I was professionally diagnosed as autistic at the age of 12. This was back when few people knew of the condition. I always knew I was different, but I was never able to articulate it. I liked trains. Thomas the Tank Engine was one of my favorite shows when I was little. I was never any good at sports. I instead preferred video games. No one understood my niche interests. Everything I said went right over people’s heads. Being around large groups of people gave me severe distress. I took things literally and was frequently provoked into anger. All the other kids eventually saw me as The Weird Kid and avoided me at every opportunity. My autism diagnosis gave a logical explanation to my bizarre behavior and interests, but the psychologist’s solution was to dope me up on pills that left me in a zombified state. I eventually rebelled and stopped taking them during high school. I developed a hatred of psychology and therapy after that.

Therapy in a nutshell

The public school system had no idea what to do with me. I was simultaneously in the gifted program and the special needs program; gifted because of my intelligence and special needs because of my inability to work well with others. Teachers often got angry at me because I was unable to look them in the eye. I was a chronic underachiever because public school bored me to tears. It bored me so much that I often fell asleep in class. I just wanted to stay home, learn more about computers, and play video games. I loved working with computers. Using one made me feel like a wizard. One of the most frustrating things about living with autism is that no one ever taught me how to actually socialize with people. No one ever gave me a strategy guide for socializing. I was instead given worthless advice such as, “Just be yourself!” I tried doing that and people ended up seeing me as a major creep, especially women. Whenever I tried to talk to people in real life, my brain would lock up like two rusted gears and I would fall silent. After countless failed attempts at socializing, I began avoiding social interactions entirely. I eventually decided years later that I would rather be alone than with people who don’t understand me.

I never went to college because I couldn’t afford to do so and I never did well enough academically to get any scholarships. Knowing now just how terrible colleges are, I dodged a bullet in retrospect. I couldn’t get a job either because most jobs in the modern world involve a great deal of social interaction, and autistic people like me are terrible at that. Simply put, if you’re autistic, then good luck getting any sort of job higher than janitor. It’s for this reason that after I graduated high school, I started collecting a monthly disability check, my “autism bux” as I liked to call it. But then, at the beginning of 2021, the government stopped giving me those checks. That was what motivated me to start writing pulp fiction.

I actually got into fiction writing rather late. Public school forced me to read boring stories, which discouraged me from reading anything during my free time. Then, in 2020, I heard about this thing called PulpRev, a movement which sought to make reading fun again. Wanting to learn more about them, I read the old pulp magazines they drew inspiration from. I then wished I had discovered such stories earlier because in stark contrast to literary fiction, pulp fiction was fun to read. H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard quickly became two of my favorite authors. I also took a liking to Edmond Hamilton (Leigh Brackett’s husband), whose style was often described as amateurish but entertaining. He was one of the most prolific authors during pulp’s golden age. As I read his stories, I said to myself, “If this guy can find success, then so can I.” Granted, I’m fully aware that I’ll likely never become rich from my work, but if even one person likes what I have written, then I am content.

Autism has impaired me in many ways, so do I wish to rid myself of it? Do I wish there was a cure for it? No. It gives me a unique perspective of the world. It allowed me to pursue fascinating subjects that others would view as a waste of time. It is the condition of the hermit in his cottage, the mystic in his cave, the wizard in his tower. It is the condition of those who wish to truly be alone with God. Perhaps that’s why I have it.

Autism is my superpower, pepe, apu apustaja, meme frog


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