I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that people who are ignorant about autism and other disabilities seem to think they know all about our conditions and what it’s like to live with them. It never ceases to amaze me how these same people who think we have no empathy and don’t “know the contents of our own minds” never actually went outside their comfort zone and bridged the gap by asking one of us because they think autism means lack of intelligence. We are not “trapped inside our own world” we are stuck in this one and to be quite frank, it sucks because these “normal” people always twist our words around to conform to what they know and it’s usually a stereotype. Autistic people like me have been trying for years to tell various people we know, albeit without mentioning our diagnosis, that nothing they hear about autism is actually based on facts and real information. It is all fearmongering by autism “advocacy” organizations and their affiliates. The “information” on autism is also flawed due to the fact that there is almost always a negative slant to everything that is said about us. this negativity also applies to almost every other disability under the sun. That’s the reason that a lot of us have blogs up on the internet because of the media’s irresponsible use of stereotype and slander. In that i mean that they make it impossible to get our messages out in official channels without being talked down to because of “functioning level”. All “functioning levels” are for is to make the clinician’s job easier to diagnose people, they have almost no basis on actual abilities and they fluctuate sometimes day by day (and if only the people who say i’m too “high functioning” to be autistic, saw me when i was much younger, they would change their minds in a hurry! LOL). The whole “prison” concept as a whole is why i am blogging because TWENTY PLUS years of being silenced and shut out of conversations about my disability gets old after about the first decade, and if autism is a prison, it’s one of other people’s minds not OURS.
lately i’ve been thinking about how the textbooks on autism have always said that we lack concern about and don’t have empathy for, other people. They also state that we are “trapped inside” and “in our own world”, well it might appear that way because often our body language suggests that we are absent from conversations and not paying attention to those around us but this is definitely not the case. If I sometimes look like i’m not interested when someone talks to me i usually get a “you hear me?” or “are you listening?” out of them. When this happens i just want to say that yes i hear you and i’m actually trying to process your voice against the other (usually louder) sounds in the background. Almost always this takes way longer than it should due to not being able to filter out other irrelevant noise and concentrate on what the person is saying. At work it becomes even harder because i work around a bunch of machines that are loud because they use a vacuum for keeping envelopes on the conveyor belts so they can be printed. when it comes to stereotypes of autism i really wish there weren’t so many because it’s wrong to make someone feel like just because they are autistic that they are not all “there” wherever there is LOL! I But in all seriousness, this supposed “Lack Of Empathy” leads a LOT of us to depression because, contrary to what most of you have heard we DO have emotions but it’s the expression of them that can throw you off. i often wish that there were schools where autistic and other socially awkward people could learn what to do but i guess that’s kind of unrealistic because of the almost infinite number of variables. Trying to figure out all social nuances and such that “normal” people take for granted all the time is very time consuming because it involves comparing my actual knowledge of how social nuance works (which is still a work in progress by the way) to their perceptions of what i know and they do make value judgements based on that. That is also why i’ve been called almost EVERY ableist slur in the book (which i will not go into on this blog just so disabled readers don’t have to wince when they read it. (keep in mind my “lack of empathy” lol) well i have run out of words to type but i hope that you will realize that people like me are trying our best to make it in the world and we don’t mean anything by it if we sometimes seem to ignore subtleties of communication and i hope this helps you understand (some of it ate least but more on that later.