Guest Blog

Jason Harris Interview by Samantha Craft of My Spectrum Suite

14 Mar 2018 by Samantha Craft

Samantha Craft of My Spectrum Suite, an educational company dedicated to celebrating neurodiversity through the arts, literature, and service, Interviews Jason's Connection Founder, Jason Harris

-Samantha: Do you believe that knowing you are on the autism spectrum has affected your sense of identity or granted you any self-knowledge or insights?

-Jason: That’s an interesting question. Part of it is just because you know you are autistic doesn’t mean I was necessarily happy or confident. There is still the part of trying to fix myself and trying to be different. It was a process of thinking I had to be fixed. And then studying about disability culture and realizing autism was a part of neurodiversity.

-Samantha: How do you choose to self-identify as an adult on the spectrum, e.g., autistic, person with autism. How do you feel about other individual’s right to self-identify as they feel is best for them?

-Jason: I do tend to go with ‘on the spectrum,’ sometimes ‘autistic person,’ sometimes ‘person with autism.’ I lean toward autistic person. The right to self-identify is really important. But recognizing the pros and cons is important, as well as seeing how you identify with both of those and the history. It’s a culture and we transition with it. Both person-first and disability-first have their own background. They can both be empowering in their own way, if people understand what the reason is behind it, and if they choose how to identify within the disability themselves. Not judging people for their sense of self-identity is important. Both have ways of being empowering.

-Samantha: Do you consider Aspergers a disorder? Why or why not?

-Jason: It’s a condition, a lifestyle. I learned there are a lot of positive things I bring, just like other people on the autism spectrum. But there are things everyone struggles with. There is a better way to put it than ‘disorder.’ Saying it is a disorder goes into ‘those poor people with a disability,’ and the misfortunate misnomer that disability is always negative. It also takes away disability being a culture. Society has a role to play. Disorder puts it on the individual. It assumes anyone that has different assumptions needs to be retrofitted to fit in society. We need to consider how society can be retrofitted to include everyone.

-Samantha: What would you say to a newly diagnosed person on the spectrum to offer support?

-Jason: Realize part of being autistic is that some people want to fix a part of who you are as a person, a part that definitely doesn’t need fixing.It’s hard to do something when you are working against yourself. There might be a lot of experts telling you how to do things, but you really have to trust yourself. Some people added to my anxiety by what they said or did. They didn’t make sense to me. It’s important to know what is working and what isn’t working. Just because they say, “This is the way you have to do it,” doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. It’s about what you need to be part of society. Understand and accept yourself. It’s important to talk to other autistic people. They might have ideas you never thought about.

To Read Full Interview, Click here

Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle), Spectrum Suite Founder and President, corresponds with thousands of individuals worldwide on the autism spectrum.  In 2012, she founded an online Aspergers support group. Currently she manages an online community page, and with three blogs, provided over 1,200 pages of her insights on autism. Spectrum Suite, LLC is an educational company dedicated to celebrating neurodiversity through the arts, literature, and service. To learn more, visit the Spectrum Suite site here.