I worked graveyard shifts for a long time. It helped my senses avoid painful daylight hours. And it helped me avoid…you know, social stuff. Daylight people.
Every now and then, when I was very young, I could sense this shape coalescing within my thoughts. I would find myself…not so much visualizing it, as feeling it.
Alexia Klein is a Brazilian translator and author of the blog O autismo em traducao (“autism in translation”). After her son was diagnosed with autism, she decided to use her translating skills to share English-language posts about the spectrum and neurodiversity with readers in her home country (where Portuguese is the official language).
She recently reached out to discuss translating posts from Invisible Strings, so I took the opportunity to learn more about her efforts. We spoke via email about her blog, her translating work and the current state of autism awareness in Brazil.
(re-posting from a few years ago, for the holidays.)
When I was in elementary school, my social struggles developed into an intense fear of other people.
I sought out friendships, connections, but lacked the basic communication skills necessary to traverse the social world. I didn’t know that I lacked body language; I didn’t know that my mind was unable to catch the nuances of non-verbal communication. Needing people, interested in others, I repeatedly jumped into interactions, only to stumble for reasons I had no way of understanding.
As a little one, you didn’t understand facial expression. You didn’t even know it meant something…you just knew faces shifted and moved and you couldn’t make sense of that.
Final semester, 1998
Interactions online about the autism spectrum can result in a lot of heartfelt discussion…and a lot of heartfelt disagreement.
That holds true with everything I write here, no matter the specific topic. I receive some amazing, positive feedback from people. And some very pointed criticism as well.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the criticism usually breaks down into four broad categories. I thought I would summarize those four types of criticism below, along with my response to each.
Events from early in high school; no particular order.
Growing up, I always found the last week of summer to be a bittersweet experience. I relished the freedom, yet felt terrified about the new school year ahead. I’d start to build up an overwhelming amount of anxiety that would travel with me into the classroom.