I have recently been asked by a reader about a quote concerning autistic relationships. I feel quite honoured and flattered about being asked about my opinion by a passing acquaintance. 🙂
Also I thought this is an important topic for many of us one way or another so I might as well share it with a wider audience. This is the starting piece:
“Far too many people on the spectrum spend most of their days with people who carry around memories of, and are often too overwhelmed by incidents of, prior misinterpretation. This is no fun. In travel you can start over, and reinvent yourself. If somehow a relationship gets weird, you can leave and go to the next town, the next block, or whatever the case may be, and try again.” — Michael John Carley
First of, I have no idea who Mr. Carley is and am thus not familiar with his work. The reader in question told me he is on the spectrum himself and that’s pretty much all the information I have. Just in case there are ardent Carley fans out there willing to accuse me of slander. I have no reason to personally attack the man, it’s all about what he said and what I think about it. 🙂
For me punctuation and sentence structure in the quote is a little bit confusing. As I understood it it’s about people on the spectrum often being surrounded by people of whom they remember how said people misjudged the autistic person, misinterpreted them and so forth and how this is very painful. A possible way to counteract this is proposed as travelling and starting anew with other people.
I am still in the process of soulsearching what went wrong the last few days that I am so deeply uprooted again. I may have found a profound fear of mine that I want to share with all of you. It’s about the fear of failure.
You see growing up the way I did meant hiding and pretending. In order to pretend and hide successfully you preferably forgot what you are hiding and where. You believe your own pretense. I did all this because I knew I relied on my parents to survive, like all minors usually do. I knew life away from home might very well be much more unpleasant than life as I knew it. Given my parents did not want a mirror to show them the sides of their personality they wanted to forget nor were they at all enthusiastic about putting in any effort concerning child rearing that meant this special needs child hid their special needs. And pretty much everything else.
Feelings were a threat to my parents so they were among the first to go. To this day I never know how to answer if someone asks me how I am. I do not know. I have successfully separated myself from my feelings. So successfully that I can not find them now, even if I have spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking for them. If I really focus I can sort of see then behind a glass wall, wrapped up. By now some of the bundles carry labels, that’s what my efforts have lead to so far. I can name some of the feelings there but I do not truly feel. Continue reading
Today I want to discuss some of the ideas researchers have about the autistic spectrum. As you read this a LOT of money from a certain “charity” organisation claiming to speak for us is used to research a cure which the majority of grown up autistic people do NOT want. In fact many of us say acceptance of our quirks is all the cure we need. And mind you this doesn’t cost a single dollar, euro, pound, yen or whatever currency you want to not spend. But that is again a topic for another post.
Anyhow aside from this assortment of people claiming to do the best for us the holy grail in autism research is the root cause of it. The biggest question these day seems to be (aside from what is broken) if there is one root issue that causes autism (such as the broken theory of mind which I have already about) or if there are multiple causes. The biggest trick with the one cause hypothesis is always that finding only one among this diverse bunch who does not display the root cause already refutes the entire theory altogether. Unsurprisingly I can’t give you an answer to this question. I can only give you my gut feelings and some observations which might hinder current autism research. Continue reading
Living in a world that is largely populated by and geared towards neurotypical people it’s very easy to get lost. Often NTs will not understand us and feel threatened by us being different. We do not mean to threaten anyone but much like an albino can not change it’s skin colour we can not change our neurology. Nor should we.
Many autistic people are very caught up in a rather destructive view of autism. Organisations like autism speaks, a significant number of mental health professionals, some snake oil advocates taking advantage of worried parents and the official diagnostic criteria often focus on how autism is not normal in a bad way, how it’s broken, defective, in need of being fixed and made normal. It’s a rather violent rhethoric when one sees the worst parts of it. Autism may then be treated like a big bad boogey monster having taken a person hostage and now they suffer from the monsters influence and need to be freed.
Rubbish! Autism is an integral part of our personality, it is neither separable from us nor can it be cured. Tony Attwood and Carol Grey have done the autistic community a great service by posting a little essay called The Discovery of “Aspie” Criteria.
I will copy the essay the original of which seems to have been lost in the ether. It is however still online :
I just came across this blog post which I really really like. Here Nick Walker describes autism in a very straightforward and non judgemental manner.
It also had me thinking. Since by now even some scientists have begun to realise autism means more perception and not anything less or anything broken it basically means autism amplifies EVERYTHING. Certainly feels true for me: more emotions, emotions other people do not seem to have, higher contrast and colour discrimination, more discernable details picked up, sounds other people can not hear (being the only one in a lecture hall of about 200 people hearing the beamer emitting a high pitched sounds is maddening in more than one respect) and the list goes on.
If that really is what unifies us spectrumites (and I have long since thought that) it also gives a neat explanation why we are all so different. Let’s assume your average neurotypicals (ANT) interests and their ability to focus are amplified. Then we do not get an army of clones who are all displaying the same interests. The amplification reflects the variety already present and takes it to a larger scale. Continue reading
So I am active in quite a few groups dealing with the autistic spectrum, emotional trauma and mental health. Every once in a while I see a post from someone bemoaning their loneliness and wishing they had a partner/friends or saying they are staying with an abusive person because they are too old, sick, unattractive, interested into the wrong things, whateverhaveyou to find someone better. This is for all of you and while the beginning sounds rather harsh I hope at the end of the post you might consider this tough love rather than judgement. So first off the divise question: do you really think you are THAT special? Do you think there are no other people out there struggling with health, weight, their past, age and whatever else it is that makes you think there is no one out there but you. There are 7 billion people in this world. The chinese have a nice saying illustrating the point I want to make here:
If you are one in a million there are still 1000s like you.
There are other old, sick, not model shaped or -looking people in the world. Other people into washing machines, struggling with their sexuality, racial identity, others who had a hard time finding a partner or growing up. Believe me if I say you ARE not at all alone. You are isolated perhaps, but your struggles are not that unusual. You need to find your tribe. So why do you think your situation is hopeless? I have a guess to make in order to answer this question: because someone told you over and over and OVER again that no one quite likes Jane Austen or washing machines as much as you do or that no one likes people of your morphology/race/age/whatever. These statements erode the value of self. Our brains function rather simply there: if you hear it often enough . You have been brainwashed into thinking abusive thoughts about yourself. Continue reading
I want to tackle the popular notion that what an abuser says is always wrong. To me the world sadly is not that black and white. You see I am autistic. I AM more sensitive than other and I DO have needs that are unusual and require extra effort. It is an overdramatisation to say I’m complicated because of this as my mother likes to do because if asked I will tell you what I eat and what I don’t eat, I will work on finding a compromise to have you keep your blasted radio running and so forth. I’m well aware I’m unusual and need to find compromises. The abuse comes in if the compromise is that I have to adhere to the needs of someone(s) because they are the majority. This is where autism . It is wrong and abusive and I do not accept people like this as part of my social circles if I can help it. Trouble is I can’t always help it. We are social creatures, we are required to interact with each other and not everyone treats me decently. This is why . The likelihood of meeting someone close minded is very high. People like me are a litmus test to see how social people are. They are putting their vanities above our core needs. Often they misclassify our needs as vanities as well and thus not more important than their needs. Continue reading