self-narrating zoo exhibit

Autistic people have lamented the tendency for others to interrupt our discussions of human rights or other political topics, in order to ask us about our toilet training or sexual histories. This aspect of the self-narrating zoo exhibit phenomenon has caused many autistics to give up mentioning our autism altogether in some contexts, to avoid the inevitable barrage of questions.

Another aspect of this is our role in autism organizations. Entire conferences have been arranged around autism, with autistic people playing a role only insofar as we can stand up and explain the way our senses and minds work. Veering too far off of this topic — or even away from the conventional wisdom on this topic — is a good way to become ostracized. Autistic people have paid heavy prices for becoming politically involved or questioning dubious treatments rather than simply describing ourselves and letting others do the talking. Those who could not praise us more five seconds ago, suddenly tell us we are terrible people who may not even be autistic. Some have gone so far as to publicly slander prominent autistic individuals.

self-narrating zoo exhibit

Musings on Cognitive Dissonance and Integrity

Then I step back and realize this belief is based on the fundamental attribution error: Blaming myself for something that is situational! We cannot live in full integrity in a culture that makes that impossible! The ultimate cultural trauma might just be that we are taught that we can, perpetually causing cognitive dissonance in us (belief 1: Reality is a certain way; belief 2: I have the power to change that reality)! The cultural norm of individualism is wounding us because we cannot find individual solutions to systemic problems and thus are always out of integrity, which can be painful for many of us.

Musings on Cognitive Dissonance and Integrity