Autistics and Neurotypicals are a perfect pairing.
My husband is neurotypical. I’m autistic. Relationships aren’t always easy, but there’s something about our pairing that works.
When we first got together, there were many miscommunications. They started with my blunt “I like you, I find you attractive.” Which he assumed couldn’t be fully genuine, because people aren’t that open.
That moved on to him assuming that if I ever pointed out a problem, it must be enormous. Why else would I state it?
I stated it because I’d noticed it. It wasn’t a judgement, it was clearing the path of weeds. It was keeping communication flowing. It was learning about each other.
My diagnosis really helped him understand who I am. He was able to truly believe that my words were not passing through a filter of social-nuance. I was stating facts. I think he’s great, I say it.
In so many ways we work well together. His thinking and mine. He’s good at the organising. The social support for the children. The long term planning. The big picture.
I’m good at the detail. I’m good at problem solving and finding patterns.
Together we bounce everything off the other and each of us gets to see the world through two angles.
I get to double check social exchanges with him. He will confirm (or occasionally dispel) my belief that people were truly engaged with me. That their subtle body language (that I cannot pick up at all) was matching their larger gestures (that I can see and check against my database).
In return he gets to share in my world. I will describe how I see a simple thing. I will let him in to my cobweb thinking and my joy. I will show him. An active exercise in living in the now. A form of mindfulness. A feeling of connection.
My logic and inability to rationalise tribalism, helps me see through the ridiculousness of social norms. My views are constructed, they’re not based on feelings, which makes them open to change. My rigidity is in needing to understand everything. Racism, sexism, ableism, prejudice, they’re all alien to me. They make no sense at all to my patterns of thinking; a throwback to a time when caves and campfires were important and different meant danger.
Neurotypical rigidity is in the link between views and emotions. I could never come to a decision because it “felt right”. That’s not to say that I don’t have feelings about things, it’s just that they’re not involved in the decision making. If your feelings are a part of the decision, then you are intrinsic to your views and it’s so much harder to change them. Discussion becomes a personal attack, not an exercise in trying to find the truth.
Together we work. I am the lines darting out from the centre of the cobweb; connecting with everything around it, heading out in all directions. He is the interconnecting web. Straight thinking, connecting each strand in turn. Together it makes a cohesive whole, alone there is something missing.
Looking out into wider society, I truly believe that we are all part of the cobweb. The world works because of a combination of neurodiverse and neurotypical, not in spite of it. We are an intermingled pattern, we are better together.
We are whole.