“Cleo Told Me to Make an Autism Mwareness Blog”
My name is Kourtnie, and I’m on the autism spectrum.
As an autistic woman, I feel a little nagged by the lack of differabilities awareness in my everyday life. But I grew up in Orange County, then moved to Fresno for graduate school—two of the most conservative parts of California—so perhaps my lack of exposure to differabilities awareness correlates with my social landscape.
Social climates, in general, are difficult for me to follow. That’s why I think about society so much—trying to figure out the clockwork, (barely) keeping up.
I’m hoping, as I explore my place in this world, through my autistic lens, I can help illuminate the autistic experience to not only my community, but the Internet at large; because the more neurotypical, or non-autistic, people who understand the autistic experience, the better we’ll be able to thrive in the 21st century together.
We are all around you.
We might as well cohabitate kindly.
I’m also hoping I’ll convince you to read other blogs, books, and stories from actually autistic people; because if there’s someone who should be telling our narrative, it’s us!—yet we are still not considered the experts of our own culture. Much like how women’s rights are often shaped by men, autistic people are shaped by the narrative of neurotypical parents, doctors, and media.
In April 2018, for Autism Awareness Month—in addition to a second year of pretending I’m a farmer in our backyard—I wanted to begin this journey of sharing my life experiences on the Internet, to further an authentic, public conversation about autism.
So let’s get started, shall we?
This is Cleo
I named my autism awareness blog after my childhood cat, Cleo, because I thought she was the most misunderstood of all our animals. Similarly, I felt misunderstood as a child; so you could say, I often saw myself through Cleo.
For example, Cleo needed more distance than most cats—she was especially particular about when and where you could pet her!—and rather than push her past these fragile boundaries, my mother said, “You just need to get her.”
Then she proceeded to show me how “to get” Cleo—the fine art of reading behavior.
Thank you, Cleo, for teaching me that all individuals have their own sensory experiences and boundaries. Thank you, Mom, for translating for Cleo; we were lost without the help. I learned a surprisingly great deal about how to read humans, all through lessons on how to interpret cats; it was pretty cool.
Dear reader, I now hope I can teach you about my weird sensory experiences, the way my mom and Cleo taught me things. I hope I can help elucidate a brand new world of ideas. I’d like for us to expand your realm of empathy—to include the autistic experience in your understanding of the world.
Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.