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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Experience of an Autistic Person in DC

I conclude The Politics of Autism by noting that we will see more and more autistic adults take part in political life.  At National Journal, reporter Eric Garcia writes about his own experience as an autistic person, explaining his introduction to Washington:
MY DAD AC­COM­PAN­IED me to D.C., help­ing me move in­to in­tern hous­ing on Cap­it­ol Hill. After two days, he left—and I was on my own without any adults for the first time in my life.
As my in­tern­ship un­fol­ded, it proved to be the first time my vo­ra­cious love of polit­ics and policy no longer made me a so­cial out­cast—but was in­stead cel­eb­rated. Dur­ing Q&As, pro­fes­sion­al-de­vel­op­ment group meet­ings, or cas­u­al con­ver­sa­tions, my know­ledge of polit­ics was seen as an as­set. It made me at min­im­um a curi­os­ity and at best someone who could im­press my su­per­i­ors at work and my fel­low in­terns. They liked that I knew ran­dom facts about mem­bers of their con­gres­sion­al del­eg­a­tion or about the fo­cus of their re­spect­ive of­fices.
Wash­ing­ton is a place where ob­ses­sions about par­tic­u­lar policies, or polit­ics in gen­er­al, can ad­vance ca­reers; in that sense, it’s a good place for those on the spec­trum. But liv­ing and func­tion­ing in Wash­ing­ton also comes with par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­culties. This is a city built on net­work­ing, and when I first got here, I was very re­luct­ant to do it. It wasn’t un­til my room­mates—also White House in­terns—star­ted in­vit­ing me to parties or brunch dates with our col­leagues that I began feel­ing safe in so­cial set­tings.