Pointing at the Autism

I can’t always tell which bits of me are a result of being autistic, and which bits would have been there anyway. It may not be helpful to know one way or another.

I share as many personality characteristics with other autistic people, as I do with other brown eyed people.

What we do have in common are some experiences, some ways of seeing social interaction, some loves and hates of sensory input.

What we don’t have in common, is a sense of humour, a dress sense, an accent. Because autistic people are just people like everyone else.

Autism is something that can isolate us. It can lead to difficulties in dealing with social situations. It can lead to sensory overload.

Just like I don’t understand the more common negative reaction to certain stimuli – I can happily scrape my nails down a chalkboard, or rub a balloon and make it squeak – you may not understand the inherent wrongness I get from touching patterned metal or how physically overwhelming everyday sounds can be.

Autistic people aren’t an homogenous group anymore than neurotypical people are. But all people and all groups have shared experiences that are individual to them, and that is a special thing. It’s a way to connect to the world. It’s a way to belong.

It can be scary growing up in a world surrounded by people who don’t seem to share many of your experiences. It can be isolating to know that other people are experiencing life differently to you. Some of those ways will be small and insignificant, others will leave you feeling like you’re no good at things everyone else finds easy.

It’s important to know that your journey is found in others. It’s not about the outcome. It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself.

The outcomes will always be different. My personality is defined by how I was raised, my sense of humour was forged by Richard Herring and Stewart Lee (God help me), my love of art triggered by a passionate teacher who fed my desire for colour and form, my sense of morality was learned from a tolerant and accepting upbringing, my sarcasm is mine alone.

The worst parts of me are probably the most shared and human. The selfish bits. The angry bits. The bits that want the world to always be fair in the way that I define fairness.

Stereotypes are always wrong. Always. They’re lazy ways of categorising people by assumed characteristics. People aren’t stereotypes. There’s no one personality type for neurotypical people so don’t assume there’s one for autistic people either.

Being autistic means I have some needs you don’t have. Being neurotypical means that you have some needs that I don’t have. The main difference is that most people share your needs, so they’re not noticed. I don’t begrudge you your oddities. Not one bit.


6 thoughts on “Pointing at the Autism

  1. Good reminder for all us humans! I hope folks with autism are becoming more represented in policy-making, so standards for accommodations become the norm. As you said, variations of humans are endless, but can we continue to identify the most prevalent issues that keep people from having safe and fair access to school, work and every-day life? Or are the variables too great to assume there can be some general accommodations?


    1. I think it’s being open to any manageable accommodations that may come along, that is important.

      I used to work in an open plan office. It was considered unprofessional for anyone to wear headphones. Headphones would have helped.

      Most provisions are pretty straightforward, and have more to do with perceptions and acceptance, than anything practical or costly.

      It would be nice if more autistic people, not just experts in autism, were leading policy.

      It’s all a work in progress, but I’m optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction.

      Liked by 2 people

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