Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alexander Cheezem and Autism Acceptance Month

We're featuring "Slice of Life" conversations with Autistics of all ages -- kids through adults -- throughout April's Autism Acceptance Month

Our goal is to help TPGA readers understand that autistic people are people who have interesting, complicated lives and who are as diverse and varied as any other population united by a label.

We are the people in each other's neighborhoods, and the more we know about each other -- the more visible autistic people and children are -- the more common autism acceptance will be. That is our hope.

Today we're talking with Alexander Cheezem of

Do you have any autistic superpowers? What are they?

No. I have a variety of abilities, many of which are related to my (autistic) cognitive style ... but I think that regarding them as "superpowers" is silly and more than a bit immature. Besides, there's a more sinister aspect to that question -- superpowers are called "super" because they are beyond what humanity is capable of.

Why is it that people keep insisting on separating us from humanity, anyway? Whether it's placing us "above" everyone else or "below"... it's still enforcing a false dichotomy and separation. It's still making us "other."

What are some situations that make you happy, or satisfied?

To say that I love learning and coming to understand new things would be a bit of an understatement. I also very much enjoy the occasions when my advocacy efforts manage to make a difference.

What are some situations that make you sad, or anxious?

It's pretty difficult to provide a short answer to this question, but the overall state of the autism world -- the constant misinformation, the prejudice, the bigotry, the way that parents of newly-diagnosed children tend to get their information from hate groups -- manages both.

Are there specific topics you find particularly compelling?

... I'm both autistic and an academic. Is this a rhetorical question?

The short answer here is "Yes", by the way. The slightly longer answer takes up about thirty pages (at the moment) of my master's thesis.

What are your preferred ways to be social?

I'm not quite sure how to answer this one. I will, however, briefly state that I very much enjoy Autreat.

What traits do you prize in a friend, or companion?

Trustworthiness. Understanding. Rapport.

Are there parts of your life you wish were easier?


What's the next big goal you have for yourself?

Finishing my master's thesis. In case anyone's curious, it's a meta-research project focusing on the experimental methodologies used in behavioral research studies.

Trust me, that sounds a lot more complicated and obscure than it actually is.

What does bliss feel like to you?

Is this supposed to be a rhetorical question? It doesn't even make sense...