When I started this blog, I called it Cleo’s Autism Awareness, because I wanted people to become more aware of autism, and how autistic people contribute a positive force to our community, the same way I once wished people understood my “mean” cat, Cleo, was really an amazing cat-woman.
This is an excellent example of how I use compare-contrast to understand the world, as well as explain my experiences to others. “Like this, like that” thinking led to my current life as a storyteller and teacher.
As I was drafting posts for Cleo’s Autism Awareness, I realized the extent of my depression and C-PTSD. I knew I was struggling with mental illness, yet I had no idea how much internalized ableism led to my current state.
How was I taught I was bad?
How did this go unnoticed?
Every layer I peeled back, the sting wafted into my eyes all over again.
I decided awareness was not enough; I wanted society to accept autism. Autistic people shouldn’t have to behave a certain way to make neurotypical people feel comfortable in their privilege. I envision a safer world, where autistic people can unmask and live as their true selves, rather than people pleasers and conditioned automatons. And I imagine schools and families who create spaces for children to develop self-love and embrace they’re autistic.
As I realized these feelings, I also saw Cleo’s Autism Awareness wasn’t in-sync with where my heart was headed.
So I razed the earth and renamed this space LightItUp.Red.
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.