I believe there is something missing in the discussion about autism, and I’ve decided to write about it.
This… is a strange place to be, and a place I find myself often. If you want to accomplish something new, something that’s never been done before, you’re just not going to get that feeling like you belong. If you’re going to take the risk and do something different, to add something important to the mix that may really help out your fellows, there is a huge chance you’re going to miss out on winning any kind of popularity contest…
… and really, isn’t that one of the core issues we as autistics face?
So here is my hypothesis: a lot can be gained from a spiritual perspective of the autistic human condition. That’s what my core experience has been. It seems to be an unusual way to deal with my autistic situation, but I’m finding it works better then anything, and I’ve come a long way through a lot of other experiments to get here.
I almost died trying to cure my autism, before I even knew that was what I was trying to cure. I’m glad fate had me try and cure it through benzodiazepines, love addiction, codependency, and alcohol, because if it hadn’t gotten as terrible as it did, I wouldn’t have gotten to the solution I did. Now I don’t want to cure it at all, because I’m starting to see it as a whole thing – like all things in life. It has good and bad points, depending on how I look at these points.
I don’t want others to have to get as low as I did. Delirium tremens and suicide attempts are something I’d like to spare you. I’m just one small person, and none of the ideas I’m going to talk about are new at all… I just think I may have a perspective that other may not have, and I have experiences that I’ve never read about before, so I may be able to help. If I can even help out one person in this world, it will be worth it. So, here it goes.
Any of you who are familiar with AA and 12 step programs won’t see anything new here, but I’ve also read and been told that AA and 12 step work has been a disaster for most people on the spectrum. I can see why, and I can see how I’ve had to modify my own 12 step experience in order to survive alcoholism. This blog will in part be tips and pointers on how to navigate – and utilize – the 12 step world in an autistic way. I’ll also cover how to make AA and 12 step meetings and work accessible to people on the autism spectrum, as well as those with sensory issues related to autism.
My other goal is to present a 12 step program for facing the difficulties of autism without having any other addictive issues. This may or may not be a successful attempt, but I feel it’s worth a try, since the basic 12 step principles have helped me so much. These are working notes of a book I plan on putting together at some point. I’ve decided not to worry if anyone ‘steals’ my ideas – because they are not my ideas in the first place. This is just how I’ve interpreted ideas that I’ve seen others use successfully for addiction to many things – chemical and non chemical. More importantly, it’s a system for dealing with things you cannot change, so you have more power to change things you can.
As an autistic, there are things that I will be forever unskilled at, and things I excel at. Knowing what is what just might bring me to a deeper understanding of my existence, and a reframing of my life from a life sentence, to a satisfying adventure.
In the late thirties, alcoholism was considered a condition with no cure, and alcoholics were often institutionalized for life. They often died at their own hands. In order to save himself, an American man named Bill W. borrowed ideas from an organization called the Oxford Group. He had seen these ideas work in his friend, who was astoundingly bright eyed and sober. He realized he could create a framework that would save himself and his fellows from misery, without having to change the institutions of the time.
I believe that complete independence like this could really help our autistic community. The energy we spend trying to change the institutions is still valid, but why not implement a grass roots change as well? I know a lot of my fellows are suffering, specifically from loneliness. As Bill W and others noticed, alcoholism and addiction was and is primarily a disease of loneliness. And, for their dilemma and ours, I have found there is a spiritual solution.
There is a lot anyone familiar with the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous will find redundant here, and a lot I won’t be able to see I’m not covering for those who have no idea what 12 step work looks like. Again, that’s why this is a work in progress, and one I want to separate my ego from. Please comment about your own experiences and ask questions!
The only way this project will be a success is if it contains many anonymous voices – just like its predecessors. I may not have the ability to address all questions, but it will be really helpful to me and anyone reading this to be told where my blind spots are. This is already a group effort – but not everyone involved has the time or the resources to write every day. I do have that time, and to continue to not use it would be to ignore the great blessings I’ve been given.
A quick note about spiritual language and subject matter: there is absolutely no requirement to adhere to any specific spiritual group or dogma in this or any other interpretation of 12 step work. Anyone who has told you otherwise is mistaken, and quite possibly trying to gain power or manipulate you in some way. I live in an area that has a majority of Christian practitioners, but I am not of that faith. I actually swing towards the Buddhist end of philosophy… so if anything I say doesn’t sound neutral, please point it out and I will deal with it in the final work. I don’t want to give this project a religious bent of any kind if it can be helped.
Thank you for listening! I look forward to what may be next, and any commentary. I’m going to start by publicly working a set of steps with my autism in mind, and ill most likely be asking more questions then giving answers at first.
Live long and prosper.