Friday, June 1, 2007

Positive perspectives from one autistic point of view

Lately, while reading comments from some parents on posts I've written here, I've noticed that some of my writing has made them sad and fearful for their childrens' future lives. This is something that always puzzles me (oops, she said "puzzle", whatever will the search engines think?) I usually consider myself to have a pretty positive outlook on life as an Asperger adult and I frequently write about the things I like (sometimes in sets of 8) and other happy aspects of autistic living. So when I read comments about fear and sadness, I stop to reconsider what kind of message I'm presenting and why it comes across differently to NT parents than it does to my differently brained sisters and brothers. Have I become a Sad, Sad Aspie or what?
Well, I think not! Sure, I write about unhappy events, prejudice, misunderstandings, sometimes even outright abuse resulting from the same. I write about the people in my life who sometimes wish I would be a bit less me. Some of these things make me sad and some make me really really ticked off. These are things many many autistic people experience with far more frequency and intensity than I do. I really am one of the lucky ones in that these events are even noticeable. For some, they are constants, no more worthy of mention than the color of the walls in their living rooms. If they have living rooms at all, or any of the other rooms composing what we casually refer to as a home. For some, there is no home.
Yeah, okay, I see it. I can be something of a Downer. Wah-wahhhh.
Early in my blogging career (yes, all of two months ago) I complained about a study of internet sites which claimed autistics only discussed negative emotions in their blogs and websites. I did my own quick survey of sites and found a number of positive perspectives available to anyone who might choose to read them. It never occurred to me that my own blog would be viewed as depressing by others. After all, I am one funny Aspie!
I believe this is somewhat related to differences, both neurological and cultural, between autistics and NTs. We are often accused in the literature about us (that to which we are infrequently asked to contribute) of being overly serious and having no sense of humor. I've not met an autistic yet who didn't find these statements preposterous. Yes, I laugh at this stuff all the time. Who has no sense of humor?
Studies have shown (and I'm feeling entirely too blase to bother with citing one) that people who are clinically depressed are better at predicting events and outcomes than those who are not depressed. What does this mean? It seems to imply that people, in general, need to be wrong about the state of the world in order to be happy. Yes, things really are as bad as we feared! And maybe we are engineered to not notice the indicators of doom and gloom around the corner so that we can go on about our business and possibly prevent the sky from falling.
Autistics may tend toward a kind of detail oriented observation which does not allow us to as easily ignore those indicators. Some of us may be less able to overlook contradictions which escape the attentions of those who are busy trying to do what is socially required. In contradiction, much humor can be found.
As Debbie Downer frets about salmonella during Thanksgiving Dinner, she seems pretty miserable. But she who notices the undercooked stuffing will be the only one not making the trip to the emergency room later on. We laugh at Debbie and think she is a sad sad person. Maybe she's just realistic.
As usual, I've gone off on a tangent. I meant to say that I'm really very happy being autistic. That doesn't mean I don't have to talk about problems. It just means I don't wish to trade them for NT type problems. So don't be sad, parents. Just keep on appreciating your unique and observant children for the wonderfully different individuals they are. They probably will be about as happy as you are to have them in your lives right now.*
*This claim not backed by scientific evidence. No expressed or implied warranties. Confusion could result. Generalizations about autistics and NTs are or are not intended to be taken with or without a grain of salt every 4 to 6 hours. Consult your local autistic adult before beginning any questionable treatment program.


  1. I love your blog!

    Any down stuff is more than compensated for by your hilarious photoshopped pics.

    The little details (like the "lucky numbers" today) make them great.


  2. I really enjoyed your entry today. People always marvel at my son's great sense of humor and I wondered if I was somehow unique for a person on the spectrum to be so darn funny. But I see that is yet another stereotype that you and my son will help to debunk.

    Thanks for always giving me food for thought.

    Karen in CA

  3. I foretell most positive posting (and photos)---thanks!

    (lucky numbers or not)

  4. I'm a parent of an autistic child. I love your perspective, and it does make me hopeful. I know that whatever NTs may think of my son, there will be an autistic community that will understand and accept him as he is.

  5. Thank you, Bev. I'm new to the world of blogs and I've been overwhelmed with so much invaluable information, both positive and negative. BTW, I think your blogs are so insightful, enlightening and entertaining. I've quickly become obsessed with reading your and now others' blogs that have been given the Thinking Blogger Award.

    Being an NT parent, I can not pretend to know what my little guy thinks and feels. My son was diagnosed two years ago and it is just recently that I discovered another perspective to Autism.

    I am so thirsty for an insider's perspective so that I can be as supportive as possible for my son. These blogs (as well as AFF) have been a blessing. They have truly changed the way I feel about his autism. I have always been proud of my son. He is a breath of fresh air -- sweet, loving, funny, smart. But after reading these blogs and also chatting with some young Aspie adults on AFF, I can exhale. After reading so much negative hype, I was so relieved to learn that there are so many who are generally happy and happy about being autistic. How crazy is it that I thought otherwise? But to my defense, so much of the media generated by NTs about autism focuses on the negative.

    I don't want you to think that I am depressed by reading your posts or depressed because my son is Autistic, for that is so far from the truth. But, being a Jewish woman (and because I love my son SO much), I have been raised learning that mothers worry about many things, especially things that they can not control -- like the bullying of "nerds." I'll probably do a lot of needless worrying for both of my sons for the rest of my life.

    Your writing is GREAT. Keep being real, and don't worry about my or other NTs neuroses. I'm not looking for anything but the truth -- the good and the bad.

  6. Thank you all for the encouraging comments. Yes,we are different (AS v NT)but not so very different that we can't appreciate one anothers perspectives or understand that we don't always understand.

    Sometimes I think about putting together a routine for the local comedy club, but somehow I don't think they are quite ready for it!

  7. We do and we're still learning.
    Best wishes

  8. Bev said 'Sometimes I think about putting together a routine for the local comedy club, but somehow I don't think they are quite ready for it!'

    Ah go on Bev! It'd be great. I would love to see some autistic comedy. It seems that so many groups working towards acceptance and equal rights, use comedy as an excellent way of getting their message over, just as you do with your graphics.

    Here's an article by Matt Fraser (British actor/writer) about disbled comedians.


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