It is a Friday night, I am idly flicking through Twitter, listening to music, drinking wine. I come across a blog post about AsperWomen, ie women with Aspergers Syndrome. I read through it, I don’t know why, I know K has been assessed for Aspergers, but I read through it all the same.
Distressed when causing offence and doesn’t know why…..avoids social occasions…..dislikes large gatherings…..may need time off when becoming socially exhausted……bored by chit chat that lacks function……confused by rules and culture…..
I stop reading in the end. I recognise a little of myself, a lot of K and frankly a bit of everyone. It drives me crazy, this kind of thing. Who the hell got to society first, and got to stick a flag in the ground and call it Normal? Social chit chat aka mindless pleasantries about weather, football or whether the bus will come on time. Why is it those who love that kind of thing are right and those who switch off and read a book are wrong? In an online world, the crowd is king. Wikipedia, social media etc, all depend on a collective mass of ideas being melted together and somehow ending up right, meaning that perceived wisdom will always be a smudge brown colour, while those who parade opinions of lapis blue, magenta or vermilion will be seen as strange misfits. In the neurotypical world we equivocate about the truth to avoid causing offence, to compromise and please everyone while the autistic thinking amongst us point to the shining simple truth. We respond with embarrassment and add tactless to their lists of faults and when they ask Why, we can only say, Because. The boy who pointed and laughed at the naked emperor was almost certainly autistic; a tale read to children without ever adding the truth that This is What The World Is Like.
The challenges faced by those on the medicalised section of the autistic spectrum are not those of their supposed disability but the challenge of a world unwilling to see things differently, to allow others to do things differently, to be slower or quicker, to hear a bald unvarnished truth and deal with it. When J was first at secondary school, he challenged those who used the word Gay as an insult, telling them it was unfair and humiliated gay people. Or course other 12 year old boys sneered and laughed. One day after another battle, I told him it was ok not to say anything. “But then I would have to listen to a lie, and I can’t bear that” came his answer. Because his truth challenges our carefully constructed social reality and to unpick it might mean our Normal World comes crashing down. And to keep our sense of order and our sense of being right, we must point the finger of disorder and dysfunction at those who are only trying to help us see the Truth