Sometimes, passing feels like passivity

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Savannah wrote on passing a week back, especially this line: “We deny essential parts of ourselves in order to resemble ideals and stereotypes of our cultures [when we pass].”

I am wondering what a day without passing would look like for me.

It would likely be a day where I, quite literally, wouldn’t have to sit on my hands.

I’m imagining a Stim City. Or a stim-in, on a campus lawn. Rubber bands, tin foil, spinning tops, hands free to roam.

16 thoughts on “Sometimes, passing feels like passivity”

    1. Definitely agree that Savannah’s piece is pretty great. 🙂

      I hope that I’m able to attend Autreat sometime in the near future. It just hasn’t been possible for me financially (especially with my having to attend conferences that are more field-specific, i.e., rhetoric and composition-y conferences). I want to be in autistic space…

  1. After a lifetime of not even knowing how much I was repressing, I flap my hands in public now, especially when I’m walking. It’s such a relief. Passing got really, really old. That and I burned out on it. Thank God for small favors.

    A stim-in would be amazing. I’d go the true grassroots way: grab (not literally) a couple of friends, stim in a public place for awhile, and see how many people join you. 🙂

    1. Rachel: I had this mental image of stimming with grassroots, heh. Or: how about doing grassroots stim-inning while listening to The Grassroots?

      Enough kidding: I like your idea. 🙂 I wonder how many people would join in.

      I’ve always been very self-conscious about stimming in public. But it’s hard not to stim, especially when I’m anxious (which is, like, almost always). I’m most conscious about it while teaching, I think, because I fear the consequences of not passing.

      Oftentimes, the harder I try not to stim, the harder it is not to stim.

  2. One of the things that surprised/delighted me about the grad school class is I decided not to hide my sensory coping mechanisms and to just go with it. The first time I sat strangely in my chair I got a few glances, but that was it.

    It still has to be the right environment for me, but not that I know how much effort I put into passing it’s a relief that I can actually choose not to bother.

    1. Stephanie: I think that’s wonderful, to be comfortable with non-passing in grad school. In some respects, and in certain contexts, I’ve been able to do this. (Columbus is remarkably big. I’ve made friendships with several people on the spectrum, and the space we inhabit is always so much more comfortable than other sorts of spaces.)

      I think what’s worst for me is this: Sometimes, and in some ways, I can pass; but sometimes, and in some ways, I cannot pass. And many people (academics and non) do not understand this.

  3. The variability is a major factor–one that can only be addressed with accommodations and acceptance. Everyone has good days and bad days; everyone has things they can do and things they cannot do.

    Our society needs to get to the point where it can recognize that these varying abilities–both in the things some of us simply cannot do and in those things that some of us can do only some of the time–doesn’t mean a decrease in value, but differences that create value in ways not currently recognized. We also need to learn better how to adjust to each other, which takes time and the willingness to be able to do so.

    As for explaining these differences, the best luck I’ve had in communicating day-to-day variations is using the good day/bad day analogy. Another analogy that sometimes works is the “bad hair day” thing. Some people stress over how some days styling their hair is relatively easy and other days their hair is completely uncooperative. For those on the spectrum, they experience much the same thing–except it can be with individual skills or their whole bodies, instead of their hair. People seem to understand with such a comparison, even if they don’t understand why.

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