Autistic Misunderstanding Happens
My life in many ways has been a string of autistic misunderstandings. The last 6 months I’ve spent a lot of my time researching autism mostly because it’s one of the biggest research rabbit holes I’ve ever encountered. I joined a bunch of autism support groups and from reading the experiences of others I learn something new about myself every day that’s relating to autism. And something I’ve noticed is it’s really common to misunderstand autism.
For example, I sit in chairs with my feet either crossed or to my chest. Always, even when eating. I currently have one leg to my chest while the other is beneath me.
Photo Caption: Plant Purchased for 20 pesos. Lemon Pine Cypress Tree
So you’d think if anyone has a good grasp of what autism is or isn’t, it’d be me. I’ll say here, autism isn’t at all what I expected which is part of why its become so fascinating to me. It’s so much bigger than what most people think of when they hear the word, but that’s a topic for another day.
And so it begins…
The morning started simply enough with the sound of birds and dogs playing. I got into my usual work flow until it was time for breakfast. Things went to hell more or less after that.
I won’t give out personal details as to who this person was mostly to protect them. This isn’t an attack on them, just the behavior portrayed. But putting it simply, this person has a strong difference of opinion on the matter somewhat rooted in ego.
*Photo Caption: One new thing learned about myself, apparently the fact that I always sit like this even when eating is apparently a stim. Something a lot of autistic people do
A Common Problem with Autistic Misunderstanding
And it’s somewhat of a common thing, that autism is a dirty word so many like to say they have “aspergers” instead due to social stigma. I fit into this category until I learned that the guy the whole concept of aspergers is based on happens to also be a nazi, who notoriously had incorrect views of mental illness.
A conversation on the topic was initiated as I finished breakfast, not by me. Immediately it started off with a tone that said “shut up and listen because you’re wrong”. I admittedly became defensive and simply said
“I don’t think you understand autism”.
Which started an explosion I wasn’t ready for. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND AUTISM” they yelled. And I fleed the situation, which I usually do when I can tell someone is just not interested in hearing me. I remember trying to resist the urge to flee but it felt like I almost wasn’t in control of myself. My body forcibly removed me from the situation for the sake of my sanity.
And I got to my house and I was so freaked out I was shaking. I wasn’t angry per say more confused and what kept running through my head was “What the fuck was that?” It took a decent amount of time to calm down to where I wasn’t shaking. I wasn’t afraid for my safety mentally but my body was sure acting frightened.
How do I know anything?
When I don’t know about a topic at this point in my life, I’m the first to say so when asked. So many topics my boyfriend for example has asked me about to receive that response. Sometimes it even frustrates him because I know he wants to talk but I can’t help but say “I don’t know enough to talk”.
At what point does one…know?
But even for me there comes a point in time committed with research to where I can speak with convictions on topics. One topic I’ve recently learned to that extent is about autism. Topics I’ve talked about in the past include: crypto, living off grid, agorism ect. I won’t talk about something at this point until I’ve been thoroughly saturated in my own thoughts with it for awhile.
It’s my new special interest. I spent technically years (although with a year break of very little research) of research into autism before I even told one person close to me the words “I think I am autistic”.
Even I can admit that I didn’t understand autism.
My brother was diagnosed, but I didn’t realize the extent of the effect on his life. I’m only just now starting to comprehend the vastness of how this effects me. It’s honestly been a daily 6 month mind fuck more intense than coming to anarchism.
Most Autistic Misunderstanding Comes from Misinformation
Something else to consider is the information on autism out even 5 years ago was from a questionable source at best, the group known as Autism Speaks which promotes therapies that essentially try and break you of autistic behavior. Autism Speaks is known to endorse medicating your kid before encouraging autistic people to embrace their nature.
The Source of Autistic Misunderstanding
The majority of what people know “historically” about autism isn’t actually sourced from autistic experiences. Or if it is sourced from autistic experiences it’s generally the straight white male autistic archetype depicted. There really aren’t many studies out there focused on minorities or women until recently anyway.
So most of the really good information about autism has come out recently especially within the last 3-5 years and the information changes daily. I’ve been immersed in this for 6 months and still learn things daily about myself.
A Lifetime of Misunderstanding
I always kinda knew something was different about me but I couldn’t place what. I’ve always struggled with social interactions and for most of my life have felt guilty about my nature. The fact that I didn’t really feel like a kid when I was growing up and more. Now I have names for the things I deal with. Concepts to wrap my head around to understand my past actions.
I think a big part of the disagreement is autism is seen as something negative. A disorder. And for those who try to be “not autistic” yes it certainly becomes a disorder.
The Truth About Autism, As far as I’m Concerned
But for those of us inacting healthy coping mechanisms, our autistic differences become our strengths if we harness them correctly. It’s always curious to me how people can take someone’s path of self discovery and make it about themselves. We assume we think we know absolute truth without realizing truth kind of varies from person to person. By that I mean what might be true about one person won’t be true about someone else. It’s up to us to recognize that when dealing with others.
And the interesting thing is these conflicts come from a place of caring. Deep down they just don’t want to call me something they consider “bad”. I get that. But it’s always funny how people can get aggressive while trying to “care.”
The first part of this post was written before actually talking with the parties involved.
It turns out the issue was actually not the autism at all but something unrelated. The autism disagreement is there, yes, but it wasn’t the true source of the conflict.
I won’t get into the source here but I will say that it has been more or less resolved. It occurred to me part of why I wasn’t approached with it in a healthy way first with communication is the fact that the majority of people don’t take any kind of criticism well.
Growing a Thick Skin Against Misunderstanding
When you’ve been called everything (including a crackhead because of malnurishment and skin problems) its kind of hard to get offended, especially by things like constructive criticism. I had to put out there today “If you ever have an issue with me, I need you to tell me what that is.”
I will always do better with direct communication or even confrontation than I do with passive aggressive tactics. I don’t often see the hidden meanings, the hidden feelings. Often I only pick up on the fact that there is tension, not why it is. I require clarification for things….
When the hell did it become so offensive to speak directly what you feel and mean? Why beat around the bush, hold resentments and grudges at situations that usually are rooted in simple misunderstanding?
Results of Autistic Misunderstanding
Something I am very aware of today as this was an emotionally taxing event for me and thus I’ve hard an extremely hard time focusing. I’ve also had a hard time eating despite having cannabis just based on nerves alone. Before my research into autism I had a hard time understanding things like “why do I feel sick and have a hard time eating when things are stressful?”
Also, “why do I flee social situations at the point where it becomes evident I can’t get my point across correctly?”
Anyway, until tomorrow.
For the first post in this series, click here.