Autscriptic: Mild Autism

In 2016 I wrote a post that seemed to capture people’s imagination in a way that others didn’t. Autscriptic has since been shared far and wide.

It taught me that there is great power in sharing conversations between neurotypes: Laying bare the misunderstandings that tangle us up.

The first Autscriptic was about the trials of masking, this Autscriptic is about the times when I’ve had people quantify my autism based on how well I can smile. Once again it is not me recounting any one conversation, it’s a story based on many conversations I have had. Usually with people who know little about me and less about my autism diagnosis.

You must have a mild form



Mild and soft and gentle as a summer rain?

I suppose

What does mild mean?

Well, you’re not very… flappy. You can talk, you can look at me. I just mean you don’t seem very…


Yes… no… sort of

I don’t seem very different so it must be very mild?

Yes… I mean that as a good thing

Is it a good thing?

Yes, it means you can, you know, be included, be a part of things. It means you can join in.

Which bits of my autism are mild?

I don’t know what you mean

Which bits? If autism is how my brain processes information, how can it do that mildly or harshly? 

It just doesn’t seem to affect you as much, that’s all. I’m glad it doesn’t

You’re glad I don’t have harsh autism?

Yes, if that’s how you want to put it

But my autism isn’t what I put on my face


What you see, here, my face, I can frown and smile and move all the muscles, my autism doesn’t do that. I do that

I don’t think I understand

I don’t think you understand. My face moves, it is a good face, it goes this way and that. I can raise a quizzical eyebrow, or grimace or gurn. It can do many things. It is my face. It is not my autism

Well, no, but…

I do these things to show you, to communicate with you, I’ve learned your ways and your smiles. I use them too. They’re not my autism. I do them

You do them?

I do. And when the lights are screaming, or you touch my arm, or you confuse me, I don’t put those things on my face. I learnt that long ago. You don’t want to see those things, they make you flinch away. They make you tell me the things I can sense are not real. They make you tell me to lie. So I don’t put them on my face. They are my autism, just for me



I just… but it’s still… I’m not expressing this well

Disordered communication?

Yes, but, you can talk. That’s great, and you’re good at communicating, and all that. That’s what I mean by mild

That’s what you mean by mild. It is great. It is great that words find me, that they flutter down onto my shoulders and hands like I’m a Disney princess. They are my friends, most of the time. They’re full of patterns and flight, like a murmuration of starlings, they flow this way and that. But sometimes, just sometimes, they all fly away and leave me. They flutter from my grasp just when I need them the most

Words don’t work like that

Yes. That’s the sort of thing people say. They tell me things that work that way for me, can’t work that way, because they don’t work that way for them

Well they don’t work like that

Don’t they? I bet I can make them work like that for you


I want you to sing a song. A fast one with lots of words, but one you know well. Could you do that?

I think so

‘I think so’ means yes, doesn’t it? So whilst you sing that song, I want you to remember the third, the eighth and the fourteenth words of a poem you knew as a child. You’re not allowed to recite the poem in your mind as you sing, you just have to find the words. Can you find them?

No, there’s too much going on

There are times when there’s too much going on. Words are hard to find then. I can’t find them. I look at a thing and will the words, but they stay hidden in the leaves of their trees. I stare at the thing, wanting its label to wing its way to me, but it won’t. Then later it’s there again. Just a ‘table’, that’s all the word was, but it won’t come and nor will its friends

But you’re so… eloquent

I’m so eloquent… and mild

I didn’t mean to suggest that some things aren’t hard

Which things?

I don’t know

You don’t know. But you knew enough to know that I was mild?

Yes… no… I feel like there’s a miscommunication here

There’s a miscommunication here

Should I not say mild?

Is it helpful? Does it make assumptions? Does it help with understanding? What is mild? How is it defined? Can you quantify my autism? Can you deal with my tangents and my variables? Do you mean mild to mean easy, or gentle, or diluted, or this or that or the other?

Which question do you want me to answer?

All of them. Quickly and in order and in the right way

I can’t do that?

Why? Why not? Why can your brain not fire off all the edges to all my tangents? If all my cobweb thoughts are so mild, why can’t you bring them back?

I feel like I’ve insulted you

Not insulted, much worse, misunderstood. You’ve misunderstood me. You see me here, masking to fit in and you pat my mask on its papier-mâché corners and tell me how wonderful it is. But it isn’t. It’s heavy. It weighs me down and exhausts me. I can’t play with my hands inside my mask, which means I can’t drown out the sensory noise with my nice senses. I have to watch you so carefully to match you expression for expression and check your true meaning against your words. I have to put my face on and decode yours and speak and emote, and communicate in your ways that are so unnatural to me

I didn’t…

And my reward is to be told that I look just like one of you so the mask must not exist

It sounds hard

I’d love you to have to spend a day as me. Not really as me. I’d love you to have to spend a day not being true to yourself

What do you mean?

I mean, autism is the new status quo. You now have to walk around all day controlling your expressions, you have to resist your social urges to connect through small talk. You have to hold back from small social contacts. You have to avoid eye contact and speak in purposeful bursts. If you had to spend all day controlling all your natural urges because otherwise you would be stared at or punished, then you would understand the weight of mild neurotypicality or non-autism

That… that would be exhausting

But I’m lucky I’m so mild. I’m lucky I affect you so mildly

I just meant you’re not… I haven’t expressed this well. You’re not, I don’t know, banging your head against the wall or screaming or any of that

Not now, no

Not now? You mean you do?

When I’m weighed down. When I’m overloaded. When I need pain sensations to cut through the other pains in my head. Yes. The more I wear the mask, the more often I am… not mild? But not here. Not now. Not with a stranger. I do not let you see me scream

Can I start again?

No, but you can start from here

I didn’t understand

And you still don’t, but there’s hope for you yet

Is there?

There is, you just have to keep listening

116 thoughts on “Autscriptic: Mild Autism

  1. Yep,You’ve nailed it there, Rhi. “Mild autism” means how severely the NT population will be affected by the autistic person’s behavior. In other words, “mild autism” is inversely proportional to the amount of effort it requires not to seem “odd”.

    Liked by 9 people

      1. I have to admit, that it took me a long time to understand just how much effort goes into not freaking Neurotypicals out. It is something which you cannot see until you understand it.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. My six year old son is on the Autistic Spectrum, he attends a mainstream school and would often be described as being mildly autistic.

    I myself use this phrase as I feel it manages people expectations of him. However I realise how very selfish this is of me. I can’t not wait for the day he can articulate his struggles so I can try and understand him better. I am not sure if he is aware that he doesn’t process things ‘neurotypically’.

    This post has been a real eye opener for me. Thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are very welcome. It’s an easy phrase to fall into. People can be scared by autism when they don’t understand it, and it can be easier to say words like “mild” instead of explain it all.

      But that doesn’t make it right (as you know), and we do have to question things sometimes and find new ways.

      He is very lucky to have a mother who is so willing to listen to what is best for him, and not just do what is quickest and easiest 💐

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Even though I’m 52 and wasn’t diagnosed until I was 51, I very clearly remember being the 6, 7, 8, and 9 year old child. Even by that age, which I recognize seems young to many people, the odds that your son is not deeply aware that his experience is different from that of almost everyone else he encounters are vanishingly small. I saw how people reacted to me. I recognized and felt every bit of it even if I rarely showed it to anyone else. “We all have a face we hide away forever.” His words for it, if he expresses or understands things in words (some autistic people, some don’t) aren’t going to be the same as Rhi’s. I empathize deeply with everything she wrote, but those are not exactly the words I used.

      I never really reached out to adults for help. The reasons are many and complex, but underneath it all, my experience was my “normal” and it never even occurred to me that anyone could do anything. And I could see that they didn’t react to me the way they did toward other children. I had to manage interactions with everyone. People assume that because children are immature, they are somehow less aware. That’s not my experience, either with myself or with my children. And as autistic children in particular, what we show, outside of overload or meltdown, rarely exposes our internal experience.

      I have no specific advice. That would be impossible without knowing your child. But in general, try to join him where his thoughts and focus are directed even if they make no sense to you. Try to see how he reacts and responds to you and try to mirror some of that back. Be careful with questions or too much speech directed at him. It varies for every autistic person, but words are very visceral for me and even if I stayed outwardly ‘talkative’ many times I was inwardly withdrawing. Talking me sometimes became a protective mask. Try to follow his lead on how much and when to talk.

      If you can be a person with whom he feels it’s safe and okay to let you see behind the defenses and protections he’s almost certainly already constructed, you can learn more. You may even help him find healthier words than the ones I used for myself. I think that’s the part that’s so hard for people to understand, the pervasiveness of our autistic experience, that it’s all we’ve ever known, and that we learned very, very young that we … didn’t fit.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Lovely words and lovely advice. We are all individuals with our own experiences. Having people around us who accept us for who we are is all any of us can hope for.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. I love this one, thank you. I still use low/moderate/high functioning, but to specifically connote obvious external difficulties with life function skills rather than to describe autism itself (either for me or my child). High and low functioning are totally a neurotypical way of boxing us into things they can understand and quantify. Sometimes just throwing out a concept they can grab onto is easier. I wish I had the energy and patience to have this conversation with all the ones who don’t really understand.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I completely understand the lack of energy. The functioning labels are so problematic because they’re misunderstood. Rather than seeing “can cope with this well”, they see “not very autistic here”.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on The Misadventures of Mama Pineapple and commented:
    I’ve been meaning to write something about “mild autism” for some while, but I’m seriously struggling for time, energy, and whatnot. I might address it in my own way eventually, but in the meantime I share Rhi’s wonderful post. This piece utterly NAILS all the issues I have with the term, and how I feel so much of the time.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. This is going to come across as attacking, but I can’t phase it differently and it isn’t intended as anything but a genuine query.
        How do you scientifically back up a statement like this? Is there a test for autism that does not diagnose based on behaviours? Everything I have seen used as criteria for a diagnosis, or even self-diagnosis, is behaviour based and yet I so often read things like this ^ that seem to indicate that everyone ought to know better! What are the specific, physical brain differences that constitute autism and how do you identify them clinically in individuals?


        1. It’s a good question. I’d recommend Luke Beardon’s book “Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in adults” if you want to read an expert’s take on it.

          Diagnosis can of course look at behaviours, but it is not the behaviour that is relevant. There’s are no behaviours that are “autistic”, because we all behave in different ways (all people), what there are are autistic reasons for behaving in a certain way.

          So for example you could say that “rocking” was an autistic behaviour, but lots of people rock for lots of different reasons that don’t mean they are autistic. If you are rocking because you are suffering from a sensory overload and are using the swinging sensory information to self-soothe, then the reason could be an autistic one. So it’s the reason, not the behaviour that is relevant. The more stereotypical “autistic behaviours” tend to be caused by stressful environments. They can be extreme stress-responses. Other people may react in a similarly stressed way, but not for the same reasons, as it is a stressful environment for the autistic, but not for the non-autistic.

          There is no one “behaviour” or set of behaviours, there is only the reason behind the behaviour.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Thank you for the book recommendation. I think that is one I haven’t read yet.
            At the same time, I have read quite a bit and is there not at least *some* correlation between external behaviour (ability to act more NT) and inner experience? I know it may not be a direct 1:1, for many reasons, but I have heard Temple Grandin describe her inner experience and my own is not so intense. If I were feeling like her, I imagine I would likely act more like her, too, because I would have less energy left over to maintain a mask (and probably quite a bit less need, because her recognition in the NT world as valuable “in spite”/because of her brain differences would be validating). I do think of my Autism as milder, almost more as a nod of respect to those whose experience seems so much more difficult than mine than anything else. Aspie is not diagnostically correct anymore I guess, but I liked it better than mild/severe designations.
            So although I prefer to see autism as less of a disorder and more of a difference, I still feel that whatever is going on in “the Autistic brain” happens to greater or lesser degrees from person to person. And it would not be all unqualified goodness even if it were perfectly understood and accommodated for by the prevailing NT culture.
            I think there is a lot of confusion among people who are not autistic for a reason: the situation is murky and hard for even someone immersed in it to explain clearly.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi Lorienne,
              You’ve raised some interesting points and I should like to offer some of the explanations/opinions I’ve read since my diagnosis.
              Research is moving the goal posts, and developments in accepted findings are coming at a faster rate. Seventy odd years ago it was a very rare, childhood-based illness. Forty years ago, it’s more regularly seen and no longer diagnosed in terms of deficiency. Ratio between boys and girls 13:1; then 10:1; now it’s closer to 3:1. Why? It’s thought to be because women are better at observing, copying, and masking (also known as camouflaging), and their autism did not evidence itself in the same way as ‘male’ autism. Diagnosis based on a ‘male’ model of autism, along with the ability to mask meant they weren’t being picked up.
              For a long time it was linked with learning difficulties. That is changing too.
              Observable behaviours? As RHI says, the behaviours are not autism. They are coping strategies. Many of us stim: arm flapping, rocking. But what is fiddling with your hair, or smoking, clicking a pen or foot-tapping? Stimming in times of stress. Difference is – it’s not seen as ‘weird’ because so many people do it. I also have echolalia (repeating sounds, words, or just making noise) and although I do it most of the time it can worsen when I’m stressed.
              So, what is it and how is it diagnosed? There are quite a few questionnaires, and discussions with psychologists (or whoever is diagnosing). The aspects focused on can be divided into: how the brain reacts to sensory input, how the brain processes the sensory input, and what cognitive processes the brain uses to assimilate/decode information. Loud noises may be painful, you may not relate the action of a limb as your own, you may see every detail of a problem without needing to know the big picture. It is a neurological condition that has nothing to do with emotions, mental health, intelligence, although they can co-occur.
              Temple Grandin mostly talks about thought processes and how her type of visual thinking works. She sees pictures and patterns and in this way observes animal behaviour to inform her work. She identifies three distinct thinking style and says she is quite rigid within the stricture of hers. Others may use two, or even all three.
              Just scrolled up and seen how much I’ve written. Sorry. Auties can go on, and can also come over as being rude and not knowing why. Anyway, hope you can glean something of interest.
              Sorry, too RHI. Absolutely fantastic post. Spot on. Look forward to reading more now I’ve found you. All the best, Marilyn

              Liked by 1 person

        2. ohh, it needs a proof or a diagnosis? Honestly, I’m generally a very gullible person, but in health care I’m more than skeptical. I have often refused medication … a thyroid problem that I had since childhood has greatly improved, according to the doctors (thanks to the medication, which I honestly just dropped off after just one intake) …. If we ask after Diagnoses and examinations, then we should not only consult our western conventional medicine, but also ask Far Eastern healers. In my opinion, the term “illness” is only good for when something actually changes in the body due to inflammation, viruses … and causes discomfort. I would not call anything fundamental illness when it is a difference from birth, even if the circumstances are harder … who knows if there exist other connections we do not know. Perhaps “blue-eyed” people tend to depression rather than “brown-eyed”, thenm, would we call “blue-eyed” sick?


        3. I hope that in the future there will be a genetic test because it’s horribly demeaning to those of us who are autistic to have to “prove” it to someone in order to be entitled to publicly identify as such. My sense is that it is genetic and it is only a matter of time before it will be identifiable through a test that way.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree that it’s likely to be genetic. It would be good to not have to go through needing to ‘prove’ things to get a diagnosis. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.


  5. Performance is one of my things. I tested the voice training I had worked myself through (tapes and a recorder to record and play back my voice for comparison) on stage in a community talent show with a scene from Shakespeare when I was nine. I followed that up with acting lessons, which helped me integrate the pieces of my masque. And I’ve performed off and on ever since. This is a performance piece. It flows even better of the tongue than it does when reading.

    So I printed it out yesterday morning and took it to therapy with me. I’ve spent a year and a half trying to work out what I feel since everyone seems to want an answer to that question. And there are the emotions attached to physiological reactions (which I may or may not recognize) that come and go along with the physical sensations. Anger is one that I never feel outside that context. If I feel threatened it can kick in, but as soon as the adrenaline and whatever else my amygdala kicks out drains away (usually 20 minutes tops) I’m no longer angry. I have the emotions I pick up and start feeling from those around me when I fail to screen them out. They are tricky to figure out. I have the emotions running near the surface, my love and protectiveness toward those close to me, my pride and joy when they are achieving things they want to do, sorrow when people are hurting, and all the rest. Again, not easy to identify, but they are all there. I’ve previously identified that underlying everything is a state typically developing people seem to call “anxious”. I had labeled it “calm and relaxed” since it’s my default state and incorporated the body language and expressions to match that state. I don’t know that I called them “anxiety” but I have states that would correlate. I have to constantly manage the tension associated with change, environment, etc. so it doesn’t build up and spike too badly. That tends to happen anyway when someone I care about is upset with me for any reason. And then, of course, if I lose control and get overwhelmed, it can lead to a true meltdown or shutdown, though I’m pretty good now at retaining some semblance of control until I’m alone.

    But “anxious” is still not my underlying, constant emotional state. I’ve been working to figure out what it is for a long time. Remember the song lyrics child me used to say over and over and over to himself (typically in a monotone my mother found pretty grating) pointed to my sense of isolation and disconnectedness. Physically, every time I remembered child me as I was repeating certain lyrics repeatedly, I would often start crying. It always caught me off guard and seemed to have no reason and cause. I gradually came to understand that my underlying emotional state is one of hurt and pain. If I tap into my emotions much at all, wave after wave crashes into me. As I tried to explain to my therapist, “Underneath everything there’s always hurt layered on pain piled on shame laced with trauma.”

    And performing your words gave me a way to express some of the reasons. I think she understood. She chuckled in the right places and really felt the places that drive home the isolation. It’s all something most people feel or experience at some point in their life. But with us, it’s often the *only* thing we ever experience from the youngest age we can remember. And it hurts in ways that are hard to convey, especially when mixed with actual abuse and trauma.

    Thanks so much for the words. They feel amazing and wonderful to perform and they say so very much.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t know what to say.

      Thank you for taking the time to share all that with me. And yes. Yes to the emotions and the pains.

      I’ve been told that I was a very angry child. At some point that changed, and as an adult I’ve been asked why I’m not more hurt. Of course I feel hurt. I think it would be very unnatural to go through life having your reality denied, and to not feel hurt about that unfairness.

      I don’t think of myself as an anxious person; but my ‘fight or flight’ is on a hair trigger, so I must be. I don’t think of myself as an angry person, but I have a deep well of rage, so maybe I must be that too. But then I do believe that it is your actions that define you. You can only be brave if you are scared. Perhaps you can only be kind if you’ve known pain. Perhaps that’s a reach! I know that my pain makes me want to help. It makes me want to make things easier for the next generation of autistic people. It makes me want to get the words right, so that other people don’t have to.

      I’m glad my words helped. I’m glad they sounded the way they are supposed to sound. I’m glad that they resonated in more ways than one 💐

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Scott, you said something about the emotions you pick up and start feeling from those around you. I have been noticing for quite some time that my son does this. I believe he is something of an empath, it’s difficult for him to be content or happy if someone around him is in distress. Any suggestions on how to help him cope with the emotions of other people? I love his empathy, but feel like he’s often suffering because of it.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I wish I had something really helpful to offer, but I don’t. I have all sorts of different levels of adaptations and coping mechanisms, most of them not really conscious. Some of them appear to have involved dampening or altering the way my brain handles signals from my body. It was a bit scary to discover this past summer that I felt so little from something life-threatening that typically leaves people incapacitated by intense pain. I feel things, but it’s still hard for me to identify them. To the extent I’m unable to screen them out, they still interfere with my ability to function. Maybe if I had been aware even that I was autistic, I could have found better ways to cope. It’s really hard and even frightening to start feeling something, have no idea why or even sometimes what. And even if I do identify what’s going on, I’m still often stuck. I’ll want to help, but will usually not have the slightest idea how to help.

        If he can learn to name and identify the feelings better than I’ve ever been able to do, that might help. And if once named, he can work out ways to tell more accurately if they come from him (they are his own feelings) or not. I manage my environment better today, so there are fewer people who have the opportunity to cause distress for me with strong feelings, but that used to be very confusing for me. It still can be if I’m in a crowd and my screening doesn’t work. (It’s pretty hit or miss.)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks for your response! We do talk about feelings a lot and try to distinguish one from another and he will often ask me how I am feeling. I’m glad to know this might be helpful for him, thanks 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

    3. This is so utterly… weird.

      I’ve just spoken with a friend who complimented my vocabulary, and I told her that was because, a lot of the time, words elude me.

      Like “table.” I lost “table” once. I lose lots of words, often.

      So then, not to hold up the conversation, because fluency is expected, I scramble for a synonym.

      It’s all part of the mask, and it’s exhausting. But well done me, being so erudite.


      Liked by 3 people

  6. Reblogged this on Fire Bright Star Soul and commented:
    “You see me here, masking to fit in and you pat my mask on its papier-mâché corners and tell me how wonderful it it. But it isn’t. It’s heavy. It weighs me down and exhausts me. I can’t play with my hands inside my mask, which means I can’t drown out the sensory noise with my nice senses. I have to watch you so carefully to match you expression for expression and check your true meaning against your words. I have to put my face on and decode yours and speak and emote, and communicate in your ways that are so unnatural to me.

    And my reward is to be told that I look just like one of you so the mask must not exist.”

    Haven’t I heard that only a hundred thousand times in my life..

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you. Well said and although it shouldn’t surprise me that assumptions, stigmas, and ignorance still exists, even with so much readily accessible information, it still does. Thank you again for bringing awareness to this issue and having the patience to gracefully handle it!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes! I hope so. As long as people like yourself keep educating others, hopefully we will get closer to meeting that goal. Fingers crossed 😀

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Wow, so powerful. Thanks for this. It gives a great insight into how life must be for you and many others, diagnosed and undiagnosed. Although I don’t think my autistic girl feels like this (she’s only 10), who really knows how anybody else feels unless they can express themselves and try to help others understand? I hope this post will make a lot of people think before judging what others go through.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. All autistic people will feel differently (just as all people feel differently), the important thing is to not make assumptions and to listen to the individual (and listening doesn’t mean just to words).

      Thank you 💐

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Okay, time to be inappropriate. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This made me laugh. No wonder you’ve been asked to write a play. This is gorgeous! The discomfort squeezes out all over like a ketchup bottle full of siracha sauce spilling willy nilly over the tile floor and shiny shoes with nothing to clean it up but an insufficient number of dainty paper napkins folded like cranes. Thanks Rhi!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m speechless! This is amazingly written and described and since I am well aware that I can understand only a fraction I do not really know what to write.
    The comments are also very impressive. It is probably the case that every person feels and communicates individually. The more he feels he needs to adjust, wearing a mask, the sadder it is. I have always adapted my entire life a little bit and have for some time felt the need to stop doing it. But it is hard for me to imagine, how it is, when you have to adjust your behavings in a strong way against your feelings.
    The question then arises for me, would not it be easier for everyone to react in a natural way to their feelings and to learn the body language of different people so easily, or is this thought to be absolutely naïve?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t think it’s naive at all. It is my hope for the future. A lot of mistakes around autism are made because it is seen as a collection of behaviours. If you just look at it as a behaviour, then if you can make someone behave differently, you have “cured” it. When actually what you’ve done is made someone put effort into pretending to be someone else.

      One day I hope that everyone will be free to express themselves in their own ways. So long as these ways do not hurt others, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be the case.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. yes, that’s sad, if the solution is to pretend to be someone else, rather than see the behavior as normal. The problem, then, is basically that the ability is there to disguise oneself and the wish not to be seen as “different”. Because basically, I’m convinced that the acceptance of people for “different” is very large. As you say, as long as it does not harm anyone, everyone should express themselves as he pleases. On the contrary, that makes the world all the more colorful … I love to behave sometimes off the norm and I’m glad to everyone who does that too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Reality unfortunately disagrees with your sentiments here; I don’t believe you are understanding the dimensions of difference that are being described…. It’s not the flavors of difference that are loved in “normal” social groups that are being described. It’s things that, while harmless in many cases, actually bother allistic folks, don’t meet their emotional needs, maybe don’t make sense to them so they are disturbed by the behavior…

          I love the idea that humans are accepting of difference, but it’s only certain “flavors” of difference, very unfortunately, that are accepted — in spite of all the work different groups have done to promote tolerance… It seems like each separate group has to re-invent the wheel sometimes in gaining tolerance in society! This is such a strong human tendency, imho. Perhaps intolerance of difference was an evolutionary advantage for our ancestors at some point, but whatever the cause, it’s reality for many people.

          If you are in groups that are well accepted, I would hope that you could feel compassionate about issues like this, not defensive. I’m not trying to attack you. Unfortunately reality is likely to put all of us in the “underdog” seat, sooner or later… If you are lucky, you will survive to be old… but then you might experience the discrimination and belittling that elders are subject to.

          Large numbers of autistics who cannot “pass” “acceptably” are unemployed, depressed… many die early due to depression caused by poor treatment by others. There is intense stress in “passing” for normal, while having to hide that stress, and not even being well understood by many mental health professionals…. the mental health “help” for stress from too much “passing” often just requires more “passing” work!

          Liked by 3 people

          1. yes, you are right in any case, I certainly do not have enough knowlegde about this. Honestly, until recently I did not even know what authism is, or knew someone (at least I do not know).
            Do you have an example of behaviors that creates other´s annoyances or do not fit their emotional needs? For example, someone standing up in an silent audience and applauds? Or that someone does not hug you in greeting, but gives you a piece of his cheese bread? Do not laugh, that’s justn what I can imagine ….
            Yes, and you’re right. A general acceptance is hard to come by, as human is always very critical of others and likes to distract from their own weakness in blaming others “apparent” weaknesses. Which in turn is one of the greatest weaknesses of humanity …:)…distract from your own weaknesses
            Toleration is hard. I also think I am very most people. I do not care how fat someone is, whether he plastered his body with tattoos etc. as long as the person feels comfortable. But I’m not too strict with myself either and have never really bothered about my own defects. I´m a lack of selfcritism. But then I realize that I also lack tolerance when I blame others for their lack of tolerance. (Because that’s also a form of intolerance on my part, is not it?) It annoys me, for example, if my mother or my father-in-law notice, how much the fat people at the next table in a restaurant loaded on their plates from the buffet. I can always start a dispute that they should be pleased that they themselves are satisfied with less ….. but I digress.
            General tolerance is always hard to come by. On the other hand, this tolerance can already be created by creeping over small “circles”. If the tolerance is in a village, this village can be a role model for the city, for the country and then for the world.
            People who are accustomed to living with people who are “different” accept that in principle.
            Because in many cases it is rather an uncertainty how to deal with it than a rejection. My brother-in-law has e.g. down syndrom. As a child, I could not handle the encounter of such a person. Since I know my brother-in-law, I have no problem at all with mental disabilities to deal with. The uncertainty that you do something wrong is just gone.
            And I think that counts for every form of being different. Be it visually or by behavior.
            Especially hard on authism seems to me the fact that people are very much thinking about it, do a lot of effort to not attract attention to be accepted. I think this is e.g. a thing that I completely miss. I do not worry what others think. Sometimes my behavior is sometimes embarrassing in retrospect and sometimes painful when others point out that I have misbehaved. But there is usually no “plan” for me as I am. Allone the thoughts “if this, then this….” are too exhausting for me.
            And I think that’s the case with many people. When someone behaves “differently,” most people are simply overwhelmed. The “aversion” is only produced in mass, in groups or media.


            1. On the bit about you not being tolerant of other people’s intolerance, that actually touches on an interesting social concept. That is that in order to have a truly tolerant society, you actually have to be intolerant of intolerance. You have to shut it down. Basically someone who is intolerant of others can always learn to be tolerant and in doing so can be accepted into a society where they’d otherwise be ostracised for their intolerance. However, someone who is the target of the intolerance, lets say as an example a black person, can not just stop being black. So they can never hope to be accepted into a society which is intolerant of black people. So in order for them to be accepted, the intolerant society has to change to be tolerant – it will never accept them if it does not.

              Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on The Unabashed Autist and commented:
    This. This is what I should have said to multiple painfully rude parents who think their child’s autism is a license to be abusive to me, an adult autist who masks, (because I live on earth,) based solely on their staggering ignorance. Unfortunately, I get upset and lose my words altogether every time it happens. Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Nauseous. Exactly this. Every last bit of this. Except I can’t even be close to that patient with the neurotypicals anymore. Can’t cope with me, not my problem. The people who matter don’t have trouble including me, whether i’m different or not. I say this after a difficult day of sensory overwhelm. And yes, I WOKE UP THIS WAY! After I recover (yes, possibly involving some head banging, depending on how many more sensory inputs will be added before the day is done), I will feel differently. When I’m not overwhelmed, I always want to help them understand. But not right now. Now I’m nauseous because your words are so true. Rhi, you have a gift. You are a blessing. Thank you for not giving up.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Part of my Asperger traits are mild in that respect, because my sensory issues are rather mild. My autism is mild because I’ve learned to talk the same time neurotypical babies start talking. I don’t have this problems that I can’t feel when I’m hungry.

    But part of my Asperger is rather severe because I don’t even like being around people. I don’t even have the need for company, at least not human company, and I live in my own world. Although there are more severely autistic people with horrible sensory issues who like company and would like to have friends, even if they don’t know how to go about it.
    Totally relate to this post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, yes we all have stronger bits of the spectrum in each of us. I love people, but am exhausted by them and need lots of recovery time, but I have a lot of sensory things too. I mostly notice hunger, but don’t get thirsty. I only notice I haven’t had anything to drink all day when I get headaches from dehydration. So I try to have a drinking-routine instead.

      I love how different our brains all are. They are remarkable. Thank you so much for sharing yours with me 💐

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This was a very interesting read. Because I know next to nothing about autism, I have a question : is there such a thing as mild autism ? Are there people considered autistic, but who don’t need that mask, or maybe a mask that is not as exhausting as you seem to describe ?
    Is it maybe a mistake to talk about autism spectrum ? The term “spectrum” might be precisely what can make non-autistic people think that there are mild autistic people at some part of the spectrum and heavily autistic people at another part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent questions! This post may answer most of them for you

      The Spectrum is incredibly useful, but most people don’t quite understand what it means.

      There’s no such thing as mild autism, but there is such a thing as “less-incompatible autism”. So you may get one autistic person who is caused pain by everyday sounds – such as traffic noises; this causes intense pain whenever they hear it, which makes going about day to day things incredibly difficult. So their autism is less compatible with modern life than someone who has sensory issues with something they can avoid most of the time.

      If you’re autistic your brain works in a certain way. Historically it was those with additional needs, such as learning disabilities, who were noticed, because their differences were more visible. What people usually mean when they talk about mild and severe autism is “autistic people” and “autistic people with a learning disability or other condition as well”. The autism is the same in both, but they may appear very different (just as a non-autistic person with a learning disability may need a lot more support than one without) and need very different levels of support. The problem arises when it’s assumed that “mild autism” means “unaffected and fine”, when support has to be looked at individually. I am incredibly capable in many ways, but there are some everyday things that I am terrible at. People are always surprised that I can’t do some things that “everyone finds easy”. I’m surprised they can’t problem solve and logicise as quickly as I can. We are all gloriously different.

      Not every autistic person masks, I know a few who don’t, but they tend to have suffered socially and in their work life for that decision. We mask to fit in, or we don’t fit in, and both of these things have a cost. Most autistic people have suffered bullying as both children and adults, and building a mask can be a defence mechanism. The more people know about autism, the less that mechanism will be needed. I live in hope!

      Liked by 1 person

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