Cobwebs: Autistics and Neurotypicals

 Autistics and Neurotypicals are a perfect pairing.

My husband is neurotypical. I’m autistic. Relationships aren’t always easy, but there’s something about our pairing that works.

When we first got together, there were many miscommunications. They started with my blunt “I like you, I find you attractive.” Which he assumed couldn’t be fully genuine, because people aren’t that open.

That moved on to him assuming that if I ever pointed out a problem, it must be enormous. Why else would I state it?

I stated it because I’d noticed it. It wasn’t a judgement, it was clearing the path of weeds. It was keeping communication flowing. It was learning about each other.

My diagnosis really helped him understand who I am. He was able to truly believe that my words were not passing through a filter of social-nuance. I was stating facts. I think he’s great, I say it. 

In so many ways we work well together. His thinking and mine. He’s good at the organising. The social support for the children. The long term planning. The big picture.

I’m good at the detail. I’m good at problem solving and finding patterns.

Together we bounce everything off the other and each of us gets to see the world through two angles. 

I get to double check social exchanges with him. He will confirm (or occasionally dispel) my belief that people were truly engaged with me. That their subtle body language (that I cannot pick up at all) was matching their larger gestures (that I can see and check against my database).

In return he gets to share in my world. I will describe how I see a simple thing. I will let him in to my cobweb thinking and my joy. I will show him. An active exercise in living in the now. A form of mindfulness. A feeling of connection.

My logic and inability to rationalise tribalism, helps me see through the ridiculousness of social norms. My views are constructed, they’re not based on feelings, which makes them open to change. My rigidity is in needing to understand everything. Racism, sexism, ableism, prejudice, they’re all alien to me. They make no sense at all to my patterns of thinking; a throwback to a time when caves and campfires were important and different meant danger.

Neurotypical rigidity is in the link between views and emotions. I could never come to a decision because it “felt right”. That’s not to say that I don’t have feelings about things, it’s just that they’re not involved in the decision making. If your feelings are a part of the decision, then you are intrinsic to your views and it’s so much harder to change them. Discussion becomes a personal attack, not an exercise in trying to find the truth.

Together we work. I am the lines darting out from the centre of the cobweb; connecting with everything around it, heading out in all directions. He is the interconnecting web. Straight thinking, connecting each strand in turn. Together it makes a cohesive whole, alone there is something missing.

Looking out into wider society, I truly believe that we are all part of the cobweb. The world works because of a combination of neurodiverse and neurotypical, not in spite of it. We are an intermingled pattern, we are better together. 

We are whole.

13 thoughts on “Cobwebs: Autistics and Neurotypicals

      1. It took me months — even years — to show her that I was “for real”. It was useless telling her, as she’d heard it all before. I had to show her. And when she accepted it, that was totally awesome.

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  1. It’s about a mix of different skills, strengths, personality traits etc.
    I’m starting a business with someone who is really good at some of the things I’m bad at. E.g. her imagination is fantastic. She hates the stuff I love and am good at. We’ve only just started working together but already she progressed the business at times when I was getting stuck.
    Thinking of a name is the perfect example. I had no ideas and on my own I would have got bogged down for months over that.
    NTs and autistic people can work well together just like any pairing of people with different skills and strengths.

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    1. I think you’re right. I’ve seen a lot of stuff around that’s really negative about NT and autistic relationships. What they really mean is that the two people in question are not compatible in their needs and their skills.

      The more varied the skill-mix, the more bases are covered. Two people who are enormously similar in every way won’t add much to each other.

      I also hate thinking of names. Really hate it. It’s far too open a question for me. Sends me spiralling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked this article. It helps show how NT and AS can co-exist. I did have a problem with this, though: “If your feelings are a part of the decision, then you are intrinsic to your views and it’s so much harder to change them. Discussion becomes a personal attack, not an exercise in trying to find the truth.”

    I’m NT and my feelings are a part of almost all my decisions because including them in the mix of data my brain uses to process information and come up with a choice/decision makes for better quality choices.

    As I write, I wonder if I have misunderstood your definition of ‘feelings’. I think of feelings here as gut-feelings or intuitions that may not be perceived by others the same way they are by me, but end up being valid data to add to the mix of other perceptions.

    When I was a kid I hated it when my mother would suggest that I couldn’t do something I wanted because she had a bad feeling about it. It made me feel helpless to ‘win’ an argument with her. In the end, much to my dismay, her feelings were often as important as the other data she used to come to a decision.

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    1. I think a lot of it depends on context. Intuition is really important when you don’t have a lot of other data to go on. when you first meet someone and they make you feel uncomfortable, that’s your intuition picking up on something that you’re not seeing consciously. It can be useful when it gets it right, not so good if you’re missing more data (such as that the person is autistic).

      For me Logic will always be my primary reason for my decisions. I’m human so will have feelings and biases thrown in, but if the logic overrides those things, I will go with the logic, which will then in turn influence my feelings on it.

      I do wonder if your mother used that argument for the logical reason that it’s unarguable! 🙂

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