Full disclosure: I am an autistic male. That’s why I go by Asperkraken, because I want to own it. Several musicians on our compilations are autistic (Metroyd Myk, Iron Curtain, LazyNerd204, Ava Hart, Stig, etc etc). So I wanna talk about this month because it’s Autism Acceptance Month or Autism Awareness Month, depending on who you talk to. We talk about acceptance here. Here is why.
It’s not that we resent anyone who wants to be aware of us. But awareness makes it look like you acknowledge autism as an illness versus a state of mind. For years, many organizations (not affiliated with us) have preached about “curing” autism or “preventing” it. Because autistic people don’t fit in that perfect little neurotypical round hole. We are square pegs so you have to round us off. So you are aware we exist. That is fine. We don’t resent you for that.
But acceptance is what really needs to happen. We need to realize that autistic people have much to offer our society. Maybe my hyperfocus is a great work ethic or dedication to a task at hand (it is). Maybe my heightened sensory needs make me acclimated to stressful environments (I survived numerous years in retail and years of criticism as a musician AND a retail employee). Perhaps the observations I make are the ones you would overlook. I ran a successful business for several years because of these abilities.
And now I run this record label all without a dime to spend. (We give it all away. Seriously.) I couldn’t tell you how it happens. I just know it did and a bunch of amazing, talented and truly incredible people followed my lead – accepting this bizarre idea of music spreading ideas and positive energy rather than just filling up space somewhere. Making music for change rather than profit. (Sound healer and researcher Jonathan Goldmon has similar ideas.) And thank every one of you that has done art for us, mastered our works, let us release your music, bought out music, been to our shows, been to our workshops or just followed us on social media. You all accept our ideals And for that I am eternally grateful.
The point is acceptance. Embrace ideas. Embrace our differences. Embrace the square pegs. We are not asking to be seen as broken. So you are aware we are different – that is good. But if you want us to grow, you gotta feed the seed. That is what acceptance is. Sure, you can be AWARE that you got a garden growing, but you got to accept the responsibility of caring for it, accept the ways each plant twists a different way and needs different things and accept that it’s a thing that’s going to bloom in time. And that’s why we need Acceptance.I was denied a job promotion because I couldn’t look someone in the eyes. (Fun fact: in some cultures, eye contact is considered rude.) When i posted on a company forum about disability acceptance, someone made a comment on why autistics view Autism Speaks so poorly. Magically, after I responded my agreement, my comment magically disappeared. When i brought this up to human resources, they assured me it was a Facebook glitch of some sort. Because Facebook does that, apparently, after you post. So i shut up. If you’re an organization that wants to put on a little badge that says I KNOW THERE IS THIS AUTISM THING then that is all fine and dandy. But accept our ideas. Accept our opinions. Accept our needs. And don’t just shove us in a box and put wires to our heads. And yes, that still happens in the 21st century.
I would love your feedback here, especially if you are autistic. And if you feel uncomfortable reading this, maybe you should ask yourself – why?