16 June 2012

My dog isn't named Autism

(And yes, for the record, I did this entirely on the computer.)

Text image description:

The banner says "Autistic Hoya Illustrated," with the word "Illustrated" appearing inside an arrow pointing to the right-hand side. Beneath the header, in a tiny font, it says "Lydia Brown 16 June 2012."

On the left-hand side, there is a large figure in approximated pencil and crayon, with black hair, glasses, a blue-gray shirt, khaki pants, and black shoes, arms crossed, with the caption "me" pointing with an arrow toward the figure. A dialogue bubble says, "I'm Autistic, okay? Let me make this real clear to you." The word "Autistic" in that bubble is circled in an approximation of red pencil.

To the right of the large-figure, there are three smaller-scaled versions of the identical figure.

The first is standing to the viewer's left-hand side of a yellow house with a red door, two first floor windows on either side of the door, three consecutive second floor windows, a gray roof, and a dark red chimney. The caption beneath this figure says, "No one in my family is named Autism. I'm not 'living with Autism.'"

The second is standing to the viewer's left-hand side of a mostly white dog with a cream spot on its back and cream-colored ears, lying in a curled-up position with a dark red leash going to the figure's left-hand side. The caption beneath this figure says, "My dog isn't named Autism. I don't 'have Autism.'" There is an arrow pointing toward the dog from beneath it with the name Béla written in an approximation of pencil.

The third is holding in its right-hand (viewer's left-hand side) a bright green bag, like the type from retail clothing stores. The caption beneath this figure says, "I don't carry little bits of autism around with me. I'm not 'a person with autism.'" There is an arrow pointing from upward down toward the bag that says "no autism here" in an approximation of pencil.

At the bottom of the image, there is a fifth figure, the same person depicted in the previous four, but this time in a new iteration. The figure appears to be frenetically running and flailing the arms, with both arms waving wildly while the eyes look behind the figure (to the viewer's right-hand side) where there is a hand holding a long brown stick. The dialogue beside this figure reads, "And I'm not being molested touched by something called Autism. I am not 'touched by autism.'" The word "molested" is displayed with a strikethrough as if to indicate it was redacted as a word choice and replaced with "touched."


  1. I will wait until the "person first" bullies come out of the woodwork before I comment further. But I definitely approve of this message. :D

  2. Going to make bullies out of others who happen to be diagnosed with autism? People are diagnosed with a label. Personally I don't want it as an identity and since young never set right with me. Mr. Young will do but if someone wants to call themselves pink with purple poke-a-dots as an example so be it. However got to respect individuality in everyone even if that is being a bulling just for thinking different.

    1. Going to make bullies out of others who happen to be diagnosed with autism?
      If you're going to insist on Autistic people calling themselves 'with Autism' to the exclusion of their personal preferences in self-identification, then you've already made yourself a bully and we can do nothing in that direction. However, I personally have no problem calling you a person with Autism if you're going to let me call myself an Autistic person. Simples!

  3. Sorry, but the "touched by Autism" and "molested by Autism" with the picture of your running away really made me giggle.

    I've been vacillating over how exactly to use the terminology regarding my son. I know that even within Advocates, there can be a big difference in preference over terminology. I usually end up just talking about the "Spectrum" in front of him (though it doesn't come up that often, just when talking to friends or family members), so that he can choose when he's old enough to...

    1. I'm with you, Marsupial Mama -- this was a lengthy discussion I had with my spouse regarding our child. Since I'm not autistic I don't have that personal reference point, but I have suffered from clinical depression, and I do not believe I am "cured" of my (genetic) disposition for depression.

      Using this reference point, and not seeing myself or referring myself as "Depressive", I applied the same logic to autism. Our position is that autism is an aspect of our child(much as depression is an aspect of me) but does not wholly define him (much as depression does not wholly define me.)

      Of course when our child comes of age he will choose for himself and in the meantime we will default to saying "on the spectrum."

  4. I believe no matter who the person is, every one is similar, every one is unique, and every one feels differently about their own lives. I like how you depict yourself as being Autistic, yet a person first. Like when a person is of a different race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, or other disabilities. Every one has their own way of thinking, their own problems, and their own way of moving forward. Thank you for all of your writing and illustrated posts. Keep moving forward in your journey to be who you are and inspire others to do the same!

  5. Love it! At a recent Autism Conference I started making jokes about bringing Autism and Aspergers with me, literally. Make little drawings and sit them on my shoulder like pirate parrots.


    My favorite is the one of you with the handbag, with the "no autism here" arrow pointing to it. :)

  7. This is wonderful, and I hope that as my Autistic 3yr old gets older and comes into her own, she can have as much pride and confidence in herself, as you do. She is my HERO and I am so very proud of her and all her hardwork. Thank you for the post, I look forward to exploring your site and sharing your insights with others.

  8. Thank you for this. I was referred to this page by another autistic person, so I'm still learning. I'm not a "person first bully" but that *is* how I was taught as a social worker. As I said, I'm learning, and people like you are the best teachers.


Hi! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I manually approve comments, so sometimes it takes a few weeks, months, or even years to find and approve comments. This delay is normal. (Note that I also don't publish every comment, since this is my personal blog.) Unfortunately, anonymous commenting isn't available anymore since it resulted in over one million spam comments in a short period.