#aCTUALLYaUTISTIC with Mulán and Jiang
My name is Mulán and I was born in April 2004 and live with my big brother, mother, a refugee lodger and our dog Gida. My father passed away when I was one year old and I tend to cling to as many reminders of him as possible, as I didn’t really get to know him. He was Canadian and when I was about 9 years old, I started obsessing about speaking English as it was my father’s language. I rarely speak Swedish anymore.
I had a really hard time making friends in school and I never understood why. I guess it was because they thought I was acting oddly. When I was ten, I received an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis. It made me happy to know that there wasn’t anything severely wrong with me, but it didn’t really help me because I didn’t get much help in understanding what Autism is.
By then I had already stopped going to school. One reason was because I couldn’t focus in school. I have extremely heightened sense to sound so I could hear all the cars and people outside and that drowned out the sound of the teacher talking, and my brain couldn’t figure out what to focus on.
Another reason was that the friends I thought I had ended up insulting me most of the time. I didn’t realize at first what was going on. I just had a vague feeling something wasn’t right, like a constant feeling of pain. They were my friends, but I didn’t know friends don’t treat each other like that.
No school worked out and I lost all my self-esteem when I kept failing. Eventually I had to move to a boarding school with special accommodation for children with Autism. It wasn’t entirely bad, but it was mostly pretty depressing because I rarely got the help I needed, and school still didn’t work out. Finally, this Summer, elementary school was over, and I could move back home again.
The purpose of special accommodation is for you to live your life easier, but for me it didn’t work out and it has been much better for me to live at home. Here I don’t have to deal with people not understanding me and not wanting to help.
The reason why the idea of the vlog came to mind was that even at the special accommodation home, grown-ups didn’t understand my Autism. I initially wanted to have a way to help them understand how I function. Then I realized that many people working with people with Autism often do not know a lot about it. I decided I wanted to do as much as possible to help as many as possible, not just the people I was surrounded with.
Most of the vlogs and videos I’ve seen have been either Autistic people talking about their traumatic childhood or parents talking negatively about their Autistic children. So, I wanted to make the vlog structured in a way that show that children and parents can get along and that not everything is just suffering.
It actually grew a lot faster than I anticipated. I thought we were only going to have a few viewers, but it grew really fast and we got attention from newspapers, experts, researchers and people who wanted to collaborate. It makes me feel happy because it means that we can reach more people and share knowledge about Autism.
Through the vlog I’ve actually learned a lot about myself that I knew about but didn’t connect with my Autism. I just thought it was me being weird. I didn’t know how gaslighting works in an Autistic person’s life, for instance. I didn’t realize executive functioning was such an important thing in Autism. For example, I have a really hard time with motivation and tend to procrastinate showering because it makes me uncomfortable afterwards. Cleaning my room stresses me out when I need to move things around.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but I’m looking forward to it based on how well it’s going right now.
Story explained to Jiang, who wrote it down for THRIVE Nordics
Mulán’s episode recommendations:
Autism and Gaslighting, special episode on June 24, 2020: It’s such an overlooked topic. People aren’t aware of it.
Repetitive behavior and patterns, episode 6: People tend to misunderstand these behaviors as being lazy or weird.
Meltdowns, episode 13: Some people have posted videos of their relatives having meltdowns for others to laugh at and I wanted to address that.
High functioning Autism versus High Support Needs, episode 12: The terms are used a lot but the labels make people either baby someone or not understanding the degree of disability.
Surviving school, episode 15 and 16: School can be one of the most damaging part of an Autistic person’s life. If schools got better, then special accommodations wouldn’t be as needed as it is now.
#aCTUALLYaUTISTIC is vlog by Mulán and his mother Jiang. New episodes are released every second Monday at 9 am CET. Every episode covers one subject and is approximately 6 minutes long. Mulán and Jiang speak English and the videos are subtitled in English and Swedish.