Being Autistic in Japan

Being Autistic in Japan

Being Autistic in Japan

Japan is a lovely place. For a relatively small country geographically, it packs a punch at all levels from the majestic mountains and the bountiful nature to the technological and engineering innovations that make daily living so much easier to its kind and good natured population that is so respectful and courteous to each other. I have had such a positive experience visiting the country for a relatively short period of two weeks.

One of the fascinating things for me to observe is how orderly most things are. There is hardly anything out of turn, not a step out of line in a queue at the grocery store, not a movement out of line in the train and barely an extra sound anywhere. This seems to be the social order that everyone is comfortable with or have gotten used to, including some small children.

This left me reflecting on the state of those like me, those with unruly bodies that do not play to the order one’s own mind has, leave alone the society. I struggled in public places, particularly in trains, to conform. As hard as I tried, I could notice that my body made some cringe and a few outrightly annoyed. I wondered if they would have seen anyone stim or know how important stimming is for autistic people to process the sensory overload that some of the advancements, technological or otherwise, bring. 

I really longed to see a few others like me on the train or in other public places. I wanted to see how they managed their unruly and unreliable bodies in public. And how society reacted to that. Maybe I did see them but did not notice? Or maybe they are not out much in public to maintain the social order? Questions I will continue to ponder as we get ready to leave.

Swarit Gopalan

About the Author

I am an 11-yr old autistic, nonspeaker that uses letterboard to spell/keyboard to type to communicate.I live with my family in Florida and go to Invictus Academy for school. 
I find a lot of solace in expressing myself through poetry. Music and nature also help me stay in the present, there is nothing better for me than to have my movement create a symphony with nature and to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Living in harmony with nature is my life’s mission.
Right from the time of diagnosis, we are only told about all things we cannot or will not be able to do. Along with the check that is written to the doctor for the diagnosis, it often feels like our agency is written off too, especially without a reliable communication mechanism.  
Time to change the paradigm with more non speaker voices. It has always been a dream to share my thoughts and perspectives with the world so that I can be one of the catalysts to creating a better understanding of non speakers in general. 
My hope is that my words will help change the world from sympathy and pity for those like me to one of deeper understanding of our lives and allyship to ensure our rights.

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