I should stop reading anything online (or elsewhere) about autism; it only makes me angry. When I get angry, I’m more likely to go nonverbal (temporarily lose the ability to use words in speech or writing). Not a good state for a writer to be in.
So many people saying that autism means a complete lack of empathy, an inability to communicate in words, an inability to comprehend metaphor and an insistence on everything being literal… This makes me wonder how the hell I ended up being diagnosed with autism a couple of years ago. (Which is the primary reason why I’ve been reading about it in the first place. As with so many conditions, being diagnosed doesn’t mean the docs will tell you what it means, or what you’re supposed to do about it. You’re just the patient — it’s none of your business.)
I live a lot of my life in metaphor; sometimes that’s the only way I can understand something, or the only way I can explain something to other people. It makes me angry when some idiot insists that I mean something literally even after I’ve said over and over, ‘No, this is a metaphor, but it’s the best way I know to convey what I think.’
I’m actually pretty good at reading people. The trouble is, it may not be their faces that I read. People often lie with their faces, and sometimes with their body language. That doesn’t mean they’re not giving off accurate signals of some sort about what they’re thinking/feeling. If by ‘lack of empathy,’ the so-called experts mean ‘refusal to accept the behavior of the herd as the best/only way to be,’ then yes, I lack their kind of empathy. I’m not capable of acting like the herd, so why should I cause myself distress by trying to do it anyway? (This, by the way, also applies to trying to stuff my mind into a box too small for it because my intelligence is ‘offensive’ to some members of the herd. I can’t do it — can’t even try to do it without causing myself pain — so I’m not going to do it. And yeah, that’s metaphor.) If ‘lack of empathy’ means ‘incapable of caring how other people feel’… That must be why I get so upset over total strangers being treated unfairly. Why I dislike seeing other people experience discomfort even when I know they deserve it. Why I have a strong emotional reaction when reading a story or watching a movie. It must be because I lack empathy.
Oh, yeah — autistic people are also incapable of understanding, much less using, sarcasm. ‘Cause, y’know, we’re so frakkin’ literal.
As for being unable to communicate with words… You’re reading my blog — you tell me.