On ‘not seeming’ autistic

The not so funny thing about categories is that the law of the excluded middle makes you take sides. You start out by naming something in order to understand someone better, in a certain respect. The label then takes on its own reality and in trying to explain it, it will become necessary to subsume people under it. This is done on their behalf, because they can’t possibly want to be that way. Except that we can and will wind up wanting to do it our way. At that point we take your label and proceed to own it by challenging what you make of it. “We’re not insane,” we’ll say, “you are for calling us that.”

All that is natural and unavoidable but it is also decidedly unhelpful as two sides have so been created. Positions get fortified. War symbols are created. One side carries the flag of the poor children (and their poor parents) who can’t speak for themselves. The other side that of the adults who cannot stop speaking for themselves (and their poor sisters). And then mayhem: you’re either for or against autism. I’m not so much interested here in the merit of one side or the other (but this is a  clue: I can’t stop speaking for myself ;-). What  I’m interested in is how all of this literally affects autistic people, because it does. It does in a big way.

On ‘not seeming’ autistic

Masking and caring – an #actuallyautistic perspective.

Significantly, I felt that staff would see me differently – and I needed to become part of the team somehow (and I did). If we were to get mum out in one piece, I had to mask-up. Due to systemic ableism I didn’t trust my unmasking wouldn’t create bias or prejudice against me and my ability to report accurately on my mother’s progress. As it happened, twice my paternities recognition skills proved vital to mum’s treatment. I don’t believe that I am wrong in thinking I would be taken less seriously, and where life and death were concerned I wasn’t prepared to do the research to find out.

Masking and caring – an #actuallyautistic perspective.

High IQ autistic people learn social skills at a price

However, high compensators reported greater anxiety than low compensators. Anecdotally autistic people report compensating in social situations as an exhausting, taxing process, which may have an effect on their mental wellbeing. Feelings of not ‘getting it right’ in social situations, despite being motivated, could also contribute to poorer mental health. 

High IQ autistic people learn social skills at a price