Open Letter to Adults with Autism (or those who think they may also be other talented):
I bet you’re asking what does this even mean? I get it. I would too. You spent your whole life in performance mode to avoid people thinking or saying you were odd or weird or worse. Anger is probably your baseline emotion. If not anger, at least frustration, right?
Well, I had a thought and it looked more this than what everyone else is saying:
NeuroTYPICAL Human: Yo, lets go to the grocery. I need to get some ____ (who cares, fill in the blank).
Anyone who identifies as other than NeuroTypical (EE): Um, cool. Can you do that and then we can get back to what we were going to do already?
NT: Come on, it will just be a few minutes. I promise I will be fast.
Everyone else: Fine. As long as you promise.
Everyone else proceeds to try to visualize this event, play out all possibilities of things that could happen, make a plan, make a list (mentally or physically), figure out if current clothes are something you can move in, while you are in public. You could be rocking, or pacing, or looking like you are trying to find your shoes but 15 minutes goes by, and you have no idea how to do this, why it is necessary, do you need to get out of the car and have not yet figured out what clothes you need. (Are you angry or just frustrated at this point?)
NT: Gets frustrated and tries to rush.
You both get in the car, drive to the store, somehow survive and try to walk in.
NT: Hey! I need to get oranges too.
EE: While you stand at the front of the grocery store, you look up and see 6 people whose facial expressions come flying at you like shards of glass and then you notice something high pitched in aisle 7 (why do you even know which aisle is which), excessively bright lights, people looking at you because you have not moved and you realize it is expected of you to put one leg in front of the other while ALL of these are happening to you AT THE SAME TIME. Suddenly, it becomes painful. It is frustrating at best. You reach out to grab that orange but the moment your bicep touches your shirt, it rubs against you like sandpaper and all you can think about is getting out of your clothes.
Sure, after 20, 30 or more years, you have learned how to get through a few aisles in the store and get what you need from the store. But how often do you go without having to go through with everything described above and more?
Have you ever wondered about these ‘normal’ or neuro’typical’ people? How do they do this and why is it so easy?
Well, I have another question: if “NORMAL” is good, and divergent is challenging, why are the divergent forced to acclimate to the world of the normal, rather than the people who claim to be free of challenges? What if THEY could see into your world and you were free to be you? What if someone told you that you can wear your hoody with the hood up or take a blanket with you when you need to go shopping? What if YOU ARE OKAY?
I say, you are. Your brain might be different but it is NOT unnormal or abnormal. I guarantee that you have talents that many people do not understand, including a surreal sense of empathy.
I reject the idea of acclimating to the ‘normal’. After all, who ever strived to be normal? But instead, SHINE as you are. Shine with your YOU-ness. Shine with your Aspie talents. It is time for the normal among us, to use their skills and see this world. It is time for you to be yourself. It is time for those people to use the gift of being normal to acclimate to you.
I understand how empty that sounds after having spent a lifetime of learning codes and masking or camouflaging. But there is no evidence that their way is more right, and I for one, am tired of watching a whole population of people being traumatized and told you must do things in a way that is so foreign to you that it literally hurts.
Life can be free of pain. Maybe not in totality, but if we lessen the burden, how could you thrive instead of survive?
Let’s thrive. Can we at least try?
Together, I think we can.