I started writing a post this weekend, but I’ve decided that I’m not ready to express my thoughts on the topic in question just yet. It’s a ‘big deal’ and deserves more of my attention than just a quick blog post.
However, in the course of writing that post, I wrote this paragraph, and I want to share it now on its own, because I feel very strongly that if you want to know anything else about autism (or, at least about autism as I experience and process it), you have to know this.
“You need to know that from our very earliest attempts at communication, we are often told that our sensory and emotional expressions are wrong. We are told that cuddles are supposed to be pleasant, even if to us they are painful. We are told that busy, loud environments that hurt every part of our bodies and make us either run, curl up or lash out are “fun”. We are told that it’s important to look at people’s eyes when we talk to them, even if to us this is painful. We are told that the ways in which we do conversation are wrong. We are told that the ways in which we do friendships are wrong. We are told that our passions and enthusiasms are wrong. We are told that we are wrong.”
For me, if you are serious about understanding us and about helping us, you need to recognise that all of our doing and being is framed according to this experience – an experience that began with our very, very earliest attempts at self-expression and social communication and that can make it impossible to know who we are.
“Just be yourself” is hollow advice in these circumstances.
Most of this blog is actually about me trying to figure out what this experience means for me as an individual in the social world.