Making adjustments for autism can be as easy as honesty

 
Lots of autistic people are already making many adjustments to fit in with the rest of you. To stop you from feeling uncomfortable. To stop you from noticing us. To keep us all safe from the shadow of “difference”.

Why are we the ones making adjustments? 

Because majority defines normality. That’s the only reason. 

It’s not a good enough one, is it? It’s not a defensible position. 

It’s essentially the argument of the boss at work who doesn’t want to automate their systems, because, “We’ve always done it this way.”

But automating systems increases productivity. The less time and energy I have to put in to pretending to be just like you, the more time and energy I have for being a productive member of society. I only have so much brainpower to work with. It’s finite. And I’ve spent years wasting it on “being normal”, instead of useful things.

Social interaction makes perfect sense for those who enjoy it. It’s logical to do it. It’s helpful, it’s connective, it’s inclusive.

Social interaction for someone who doesn’t want it, just wants to get on with their work, is illogical.

We need to stop doing things just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. We need to meet somewhere in the middle. 

Stop expecting me to be able to project unconscious body language that I can only produce consciously. It doesn’t mean I’m aloof. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It means that you’re reading subtext that doesn’t exist. You’re creating offence that I did not intend, because you’re judging me by your rules.

I’m not going to stop interacting. I enjoy interacting. I don’t enjoy performing. I don’t enjoy trying to translate whether or not you really meant what you said. I don’t enjoy the work.

So keep talking to me. But let’s try doing it honestly. Say what you mean. It’s refreshing! Do it. Be more Straightforward. You want something from me? Don’t hint at it, say it. I’m a helpful type. I’ll pitch in. Hint that you want help and it will only hurt us both.

If I seem aloof, say it. I’ll laugh and it’ll break the tension. I’m usually most aloof when I’m most nervous. I’ll be concentrating too hard on what you’re saying and how, and I’ll forget to do my own body language and facial expressions. You’ll think I’m an arse. I’ll worry that I said something that upset you.

Expect less from me, and you’ll get more out of me. More in every sense of the word. 

Be someone who isn’t work to be around, and you’ll see the difference.

11 thoughts on “Making adjustments for autism can be as easy as honesty

  1. This is great! I’ve never understood why we can’t all just interact like this all of the time – I wonder what people gain from all the dancing around what they really want to say 😀 There must be something I’m missing, but I’m not sure that it’s something I need to learn.

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  2. As you’ve said, the problem is we all see each other through our own perspective. If I don’t know you are autistic, and you respond to me without facial expression or non-verbal cues, I’m going to work harder to try to help you “understand”! My “reward” is seeing a look of understanding come over your face. Your reward is me shutting up! 😀
    Yes, if I know the person well enough, I work to be brief. And I don’t expect the response to be like looking in the mirror. I’m always learning to pick up on social cues sooner. Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not that I want you to brief, I love a good conversation as much as anyone. It’s more that I want to know that you’re someone who says what you mean (which isn’t a bad person to be in the neurotypical world either!)

      I won’t get hints. They’re probably the thing that really annoys me.

      For example:-
      Me: how’s things?
      NT: we’re moving tomorrow! Lots to do. Wish we had more people to help.
      Me: have you hired movers?
      NT: yes, they’re coming later, but there are so many boxes to fill.
      Me: you’ll get there in the end!

      If I was working hard and put in a lot of effort I would be able to work out that my friend was angling for an offer of help. But that would take me effort. My closest friends are all very direct types of people. They’re all neurotypicals, but at the same time I wouldn’t use my energy to understand them. I’d ask if need be.

      My verbal reasoning skills are excellent, but I don’t want my social interactions to feel more like a test in my head, I want them to be enjoyable and relaxed.

      The ideal conversation would be:-

      Me: How’s things?
      NT: we’re moving tomorrow, any chance you’re free to help?
      Me: I’ll double check i’m not doing anything, but if I’m free no problem.

      Because in the first example I would be happy to help, I just haven’t spotted that that’s what you’re really asking. I’m sure there’re lots of nonverbal cues, but I haven’t spotted them. You may assume I’m deliberately not seeing them.

      I think we should overhaul the whole communication system and simplify it! You can keep the beauty and complexity of language, but still say what you mean 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Missed this somehow- thanks for the response. Yes, I understand what you mean about all the hinting. And I know I’m now thinking differently when someone is very direct. In the past, I might have had a small feeling they were “rude” or that I just didn’t “get” them. Now, with all interactions, my internal response if something strikes me as “off” is that everyone is different. Hopefully some day I won’t even notice…nothing will seem “off” (since it’s really just “off” to my own way of processing). That’s the point when real inclusion happens. I hope you’ll keep educating!

        Liked by 1 person

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