The Ableism Behind You Calling Me “Annoying”
Throughout my entire life, folks have used the term “annoying” as a way to describe me. This word has haunted me my entire life, for it is continually used to put me down and make me self conscious. Everything about me is “annoying.” I’m loud and talkative. I’m energetic and hyper. I’m unapologetic and weird. People who label me annoying have been taught that these characteristics are ugly, inconvenient, and are to be avoided at all cost. Even as an adult I am still seen as the weird kid no one wants to play with at recess.
I have ASD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. I couldn’t pretend to be neurotypical if I tried. My “annoying” behaviors are directly attributed to my disabilities. I’m socially awkward, sometimes I can be hard to follow in conversations. I have difficulty controlling how loud I speak. I go on long rants about my special interests that can continue for hours if no one stops me. Sometimes I can act “childish.” I struggle to stay focused. I’m hyperactive and inattentive simultaneously. I’ve had difficulty making and keeping friends my entire life. I hyper fixate and am prone to sensory overload. I have horrible rejection sensitive dysphoria. I’m impulsive, I have no sense of time, and sometimes I even stim in public.
I am very open about these things. I tell people I have ASD and ADHD when I first meet them, in hopes that they will be more understanding towards my behaviors. But time and time again the adults I interact with treat me as poorly as my peers did when I was in middle school. Making fun of me behind my back is an enjoyable pastime for these people. I’m seen as a walking target, and everything I say is subject to their harsh scrutiny behind my back. Ableism isn’t harmless gossip. Attempting to assassinate my character by perpetuating ableist rhetoric behind my back will always be malicious and unacceptable. It has taken me years to love the “annoying” parts of me and to find others who love them as well. There’s nothing be gained by tearing down disabled folks. Making people self conscious about characteristics they can’t change is bullying.
I’m never going to be able to stop being “annoying.” I’m not going to wake up one day and not have ASD or ADHD or any of my other disabilities. I am writing about my experiences and speaking up about how I am treated because it’s unfair. I am angry that people continually treat autistic people like garbage for exhibiting “autistic” traits. I am not a conversation topic for neurotypical people. This is not to say I’m above criticism, but if your critiques of me are so lacking in nuance that they are dripping in ableist rhetoric, then maybe you’re just an asshole. When you call me annoying you’re telling the world that you view my disabilities as an inconvenience to you. You’re saying that I need to change my behaviors, behaviors I was born with, in order to make you more comfortable. I’m not sorry for inconveniencing you by taking up space as a disabled person. I’m not sorry because this is who I am. I am not ashamed of my disabilities, and I hope that one day the traits that make me the fun, passionate, and loving person that I am won’t be reduced to being “annoying.”