As I have written before, Autistic shielding involves being authentic in our Autistic embodiment (What is Autistic shielding?). This allows us to turn away intolerant people and find our neurokin.
My Autistic embodiment involves an uncontrollably expressive face, singing the same jingle or song over and over, talking to myself, narrating all my daily activities, watching the same films and TV programmes… there’s a lot. Some of them are more enjoyable and tolerable than others and some are really difficult to deal with – sensory overwhelm, intolerance for busy places and forgetfulness, to name a few.
All of these outward behaviours come with a lot of labels, words like freak, weirdo, loner. Part of Autistic shielding is reclaiming those words for ourselves.
Yes, I am a loner, I love my own company, I love the control and the peace which comes with being alone. I am the master of my day and I’m never lonely as I am constantly talking to myself!
Yes, I can come across a bit freaky, I’ve aways intensely liked or hated things and was never shy to tell people. I’ve always worn what I liked, had a shaved head for many years and listened to alternative music. I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb.
Am I a weirdo? Absolutely! For me the word ‘weird’ is amazing. I would much rather be weird than normal and boring. Don’t be sad that I have non-conforming personality traits and behaviours, because I’m not.
Reclaiming these words – in the same way some of us have reclaimed Queer and Crip – means we hold more power over how we are understood in this world. And that is a huge part of shielding ourselves whilst being authentically Autistic.