The third report from my sister about her experiences as an autistic person, in aid of #AutismAwarenessWeek 2020.
Views expressed by this autistic may or may not reflect the views of other autistics. Every autistic is unique. I do not seek to dictate to anyone how they should think. That is not the autistic way. We do tend to be in favour of free expression and free will, providing nobody is being hurt. There is no intention of offending or distressing you. “I did not get where I am today by” wanting to be the same as everybody else. Yes, I realised I was different, but that did not result in me wanting to mimic as some autistics do. My family accepted me as I was and did not put pressure on me to change. The way to earn the respect, trust and loyalty of an autistic is to let them be what they are. Some do want to fit in; others do not. I have never had the mindset of King Louie. I might not be a good fit for this world or society, but I enjoy being completely my own person. If you watch a film where the outcast becomes super popular at the end, that is not my ambition in life. I would much rather follow the lead of Newt Scamander from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, who is basically the Chris Packham of the wizarding world. I don’t know if he is intended to be autistic, but he is one of the best adult representations I have seen. Yes, he does find a friend and a girlfriend because that is usually how the formula goes, but he remains true to himself. He has discovered what he wants to do with his life and is happy to remain unpopular. He does not change to fit in. He is my kind of hero and I try to follow his example.
“Do you know why I admire you, Newt? … You do not seek power or popularity. You simply ask is the thing right in itself?”
Newt cares about creatures and protecting them is his life’s goal. However, he also cares about humans, although they often rub him the wrong way. It is fair to say that he isn’t well-versed in polite conversation, but he is loyal to those who look past that.
“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They are currently in alien terrain, surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet. Humans.”
I like to pretend to be Newt’s apprentice if I need to overcome my reluctance to do something annoying, but necessary. (Like making a phone call to a certain place that shall remain nameless.) I have a pen that looks like Newt’s wand and a couple of Nifflers, plus Pickett. I also wore my “evil” T-shirt with Jason and Freddy on. I like watching horror because I can empathise with either the victim or the monster, depending on my mood. Some monsters are just misunderstood. If you deliberately go to Camp Blood and provoke Jason who just wants a quiet life, then frankly, I have no pity for you. Jason was disabled and he was bullied. He drowned while nobody was watching. He was resurrected by the Spirit of the Lake and lived in the woods as an outcast, only to see his mother killed. I can’t really blame him if he has a grudge against the whole of humanity. (Maybe – I used my imagination.) You don’t have to stop using your imagination just because you are an adult. I do not care what society thinks about it. Society has always been a pain in the bum for those who dare to be different either through choice or because they were born disabled in some way. I have little patience for the “hidden social rules” that constantly trip autistics up. There are “mimics/maskers” who blend in; but that is their choice and they are motivated to do so. Other autistics are keener on being true to themselves and are less motivated. I am one of those, although I do try to be polite. Usually, this means I don’t say very much though. I am a writer; not a talker.
“Is It Okay?”
I do not personally approve of April Fools’ Day because I do not often find pranks, teasing or banter to be very funny, especially if directed at a vulnerable person. I do not easily distinguish between friendly banter and bullying, unless it is on a comedy show such as “The Last Leg” or if I know you well. (Bear in mind, even if I know you well, this is not a guarantee that I will recognise it as friendly, especially if I am tired or not in the right frame of mind to appreciate the difference.) You can not know how much stress we might already have experienced. If we explode in your face, that usually just means that YOU were the final straw. Autistics often repress their anger in order to be more pleasing to you. It is perhaps unfortunate that banter is considered to be part of “normal” conversation. If you attempt it and get silence, it could be because we have no idea how to respond; it could be that we are biting our tongue; it could be that we are processing and trying to think of a comeback that won’t be interpreted as “rude” or “defensive” or one of the multitude of ways non-autistics choose to wrongly interpret us. Just try to remember that we might not be communicating at the same level. Just remember that.
“Assume makes an ass of you and me.”
I chuckled in response to this, when told it at the Bolton ASC after-diagnosis course, proving that I do have a sense of humour. I just laugh when I find something genuinely amusing. Social laughter for the sake of socialness is not something I do. It just distracts from the conversation. We are all human. We do not need to prove that. Some autistics prefer companionable silence to shallow conversation. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I was never willingly social as a child, never willingly social as a teenager and I am not willingly social as an adult. Conversation is only satisfying if everyone is speaking the same language at the same level. Autistics seem to have their own hidden rules of communication and manners. For despite the myths, autistics care about manners. I have the manners that I was taught as a child. Once we have successfully been taught a rule, we don’t tend to break it, at least not on purpose. Why is modern society so rude? (I blame the internet.)
Goodbye and please try to be kind and polite. If in doubt, ask; NEVER ASSUME!