I just had a realisation: the reason why so many people just cannot wrap their head around the fact that I am autistic, is that my traits only very rarely give others trouble – the one who suffers the most from these traits is me.
This is not to say that I don’t also benefit from the positives of being autistic. I do not lament being autistic – on the contrary, I am very proud of it. Proud of being so thorough and detail-focussed (by the way – this is no spelling mistake. If you are doubting it, just go ahead and look it up!). I am proud of being able to focus intensely on a subject or problem, and do exceptional work. I am proud of welcoming when others point out mistakes I have made, because I care about getting things right (and I care more about that than me being right or wrong!). I am proud of my ability to think in a predominantly logical fashion, and I cherish my inability to lie and harm others. I enjoy my careful attitude towards the world, one which makes me the slower one, but the more attentive one. It allows me to understand the things around me on a deeper level, and it allows be to interact in a more connected way with animals and young humans (babies, children).
But like I wrote above, I am also the one who suffers the most from the difficulties that come with being autistic. I am the one who holds up the mask in public and then collaps at home with no more energy to spare. I am the one who is confused by social relations, constantly calculating the best responses and most appropriate behaviours. I am the one who forgets to eat or drink because I was so focused on my task, and only notice once I start getting headaches. I am the one who needs to always bring earplugs because loud noises hurt my ears. I am the one who hides shaking and crying in the corner of the large department store, because there are too many people, too many sounds, flickering sights and too many uncertainties, and I am overwhelmed by it all. I am the one who is almost constantly weighed down by my guilty conscience because of all those friends and family I did not contact or visit for ages, although I wish I had the energy to do so. I am the one who felt stupid most of my life, because I was the last person to ‘get’ the joke if I did at all. I am the one who ended up in so many highly uncomfortable situations, because I could not read the signs of flirtation, and so would not notice until some guy attempted to kiss me or touch me, and I would have to pull away abruptly to evade it.
The reasons for not believing the autism
I know that there are also other reasons why others do not believe I am autistic. It is not clearly visible from the outside (note the connection to the featured image here?), I don’t make any obvious stims, I don’t have an unusual voice, and furthermore I do not fit the media’s stereotypes like Rain Man or Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon.
But I do believe that my initial reason – that others don’t get any trouble from me – is one of the more heavy weighing reasons why so few people believe in that I am autistic when I tell them that it is so. If I was very outwardly reacting, and spoke my mind more loudly, then they would probably figure out something was up. But then I would be in other sorts of trouble, and I would have to deal with others’ anger and irritation. So I choose the gentle path. I insist unimposingly on my autism, but I do insist. I will tell you about it if you ask, and you genuinly want to know. Otherwise, I will just smile and nod. I can use other strategies to get by. I can ask for accomodations without mentioning autism. It can work, although I do wish people would listen more openly. And so I write about the autistic perspective here – so that anyone who cares can read it. (And since YOU read this – thank you for caring!).