I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna let my worlds collide. Fasten your seatbelts, kids!
April is a month where lots of people talk about autism. I know, I know, “We’re here to be amused, honey. What’s so funny about that?” The answer is, I am. I’m funny, (so I’m told). And I’m Autistic too. For reals! Surprise!
You may have heard that Autistic people don’t understand sarcasm, irony or satire. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do, and some of my Autistic friends are pretty damned funny. Oh yeah, we have friends too. So, don’t believe that one either.
This is how it went down, I was a kid who didn’t blend in, to say the least. I didn’t have any friends back then, and I got picked on a lot too. So, I used to make up stories in my head, with people I thought were nice, and who treated other people well, and were “weird,” but smart, like me.
People didn’t realize I was making up those stories in my head, because usually while I was doing it, I was just pacing around, mumbling to myself, or riding on a swing until someone cut it down and pried it from my six year-old tuchus. So, they thought I didn’t know how to do “pretend play” and that somebody should probably fix me. They stressed me out a lot, so I spent even more time in my head, but that was okay, because my stories got even better.
In high school, I learned that if I could make people laugh, they wouldn’t beat the crap out of me and call me names anymore. So, I learned how to be a comedienne. I also learned how to blend in better, and soon everyone was patting themselves on the back because they figured that I wasn’t “broken” anymore. They never realized how hard I had to work to pretend to be “normal” because my senses are very sensitive and I have to remember a lot of social rules that others know naturally.
College was pretty tough, because I can’t take notes, but law school was awesome because they teach you in a different way there. That was when somebody finally did the right tests and figured out that I’m Autistic. To be honest, though, I didn’t do much with that information for a few years. There wasn’t really much information back then and I had no idea how to meet and connect with other Autistic people.
Then, my kids were born, and they were like me. To my surprise, although I’m not sure why, some people thought that was a problem. I have never considered it a problem, although I do realize that good support is an important thing to have. So they have good support, but they are being raised to not feel like they are weird or broken. And they are being raised with the belief that different is not less.
Because I decided to homeschool them, I couldn’t be a lawyer full-time anymore. I still wanted to work though, and frankly, I needed the money. (Good support can cost a lot). So, I decided to take those stories I have always made up in my head and write them down.
The people in my story worlds are still nice, and smart and a little weird. And they are funny, and hopefully they make people feel good. Maybe my stories even give people a place to escape like they always have for me. My first female main character, Gabrielle is very quirky and uncoordinated. She says awkward things, makes corny jokes and has no filter. But she has a good heart and she cares about people. People seem to worry about her a lot, her parents, her husband, her friends … But that’s just because they love her. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about Gabrielle.
Although I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m Autistic from the people who read my sexy rom com books, I have never officially acknowledged it either. In part, I didn’t want people to think I was somehow using it, for sympathy, for sales, for whatever. And in part, people still have a lot of misconceptions about Autistic people, so I worried that you might think I didn’t write my own books or something. That’s finally starting to change, though.
So, I am officially “coming out!” I am Neurodivergent and I am proud of my quirks! I am in the process of rewriting Power of Attorney, which includes an openly Autistic character. I’m hoping that letting my worlds collide turns out to a be good choice and that this April, you’ll think about the fact that Autistic people may be more than you see in a lot of those ads for awareness.