Sorry, but I’m going to have to use figurative language in this one (which is sort of important to a point I’m trying to make)…
This is how it’s supposed to work:
You believe something such as All cats hate water. Then you see a video of a cat jumping into a bath tub to play, and you think, Hmmm, maybe some cats like water a lot; this one sure seems to, and you no longer believe that all cats, all the time, hate water almost as much as all cats hate dogs. (I hope you see what I did there…)
However, this seems to be how it works instead:
You believe something such as All cats hate water. Then you see a video of a cat jumping into a bath tub to play, and you think, I don’t care if that cat jumped into the water to play. Everyone knows all cats hate water, so that cat hates water. In fact, that cat is a bad cat for doing things that are contrary to what everyone knows is true about cats. Who does that cat think it is? What is it trying to prove? Why can’t it just be the way I know all cats are?
Well, let me tell you what that cat is trying to prove…
That cat is sick and tired of hearing that all cats hate water. He worries that he’s not catting “the right way,” because he likes water, especially warm water in which a rubber ducky is floating, and he’s quite good at swimming, and people who don’t even know cats very well saying cats must hate water upset him a lot. Am I not a cat at all? he wonders. If I am a cat, why don’t I count? Why can’t these people who see me playing in the bath tub accept that, since I am a cat and I do like water, obviously some cats like water?
For those of you who need a translation (’cause, for some reason, there are a hell of a lot of neurotypical people who don’t quite grasp figurative language — the cast-iron pot calling the copper kettle black):
Apparently it’s not just “the experts” who believe that autistic people cannot use, understand, or even recognize figurative language; it’s not just “the experts” who believe autism means being practically incompetent when it comes to using words to communicate. I know this because I got a few comments here on my blog a few weeks ago, comments along the lines of ‘You seem really smart for someone with autism’ and ‘It’s so inspiring how you’ve overcome your natural difficulty with using words to even learn a little bit about grammar. Which books did you memorize?’
To the people who made those comments, I have one thing to say: Fuck off.
So this (buried lede, much?) is why I’m done with my “Writing Glitch” posts, for now and perhaps for always. Those posts were intended as a way for me to share knowledge I have with people who need/want it. My autism doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it, other than perhaps a way for me to prove that “the experts” (and others) who insist autism must mean inability to communicate through words are WRONG. (Here I am, using words far better than most neurotypical people can — better than most people of any neurotype can — not because of/despite autism but just because it’s something I’m good at. However, the fact that I am better with written English than the majority of English-speaking people ought to at least be proof that autism does not mean “can’t use words” any more than it means “lacks empathy.”) Yes, some autistic people have trouble with words. So do some non-autistic people. Yes, some autistic people take everything literally, but autistics certainly don’t have a monopoly on that. (Do you want me to write a long blog post about all the neurotypical people I’ve known in my life who are, shall we say, metaphor-impaired?)
And the fact that I can do these things you think I can’t do “because autism” doesn’t mean I’m super-special or unique; I’m not the only one who violates your “rules.” Stop being impressed and start thinking, would ya?
I’m not your proverbial “singing dog.” I’m not here for people to look at and be soooo amazed that an autistic person is actually able to fake (because it can’t possibly be real, can it?) being highly skilled (more skilled than you are, in fact) in written communication. (“The Experts” say autism means not being able to communicate and not having anything to communicate anyway.)
I’m not anyone’s “inspiration.” I’m not here to prove how well an autistic person can learn to pass for
human normal if he’s just bullied taught the neurotypical right ways to think, speak, and behave.
I don’t take it as a compliment when someone comments, ‘Wow, you sure do seem intelligent for someone with autism.’ If you think I should take it as such, I’m not the one with difficulty communicating… or with understanding others’ emotions.
If it makes you feel better to think that my knowledge of the mechanics of writing is a mere “splinter skill” (even though it would be called expertise in a neurotypical person) with no possible use in real life (even though it’s how I make a living), if it makes you feel superior to think that I don’t know anything that isn’t directly related to this one thing I’m “allowed” to be good at as an autistic person… Well, you’re a willfully ignorant idjit. And other things I can’t mention because this is a polite blog.
Now I will address a few common “expert” ideas about autism:
“Autism means not being able to use or understand figurative language; autistic people always take everything literally.” If you still believe that, I can’t help you, because you don’t want to be helped.
“Autistic people are sometimes really good at math and are always obsessed with computers, but they don’t have any creativity.” Fuck you. Also, being good at math isn’t the same as being obsessed with computers. Nor is either of those things the same as lacking creativity — there’s this thing called CGI, for example, which does require knowledge of computers and artistic skill. (Fun fact: the stuff about “one side of the brain controls logic, and the other controls creativity” has been disproven. Like, y’know, years and years ago… *rolls eyes* Did you know the idea came from a work of fiction in the first place? A work of fiction published in 1886? Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to accept something just because “the experts” say so when there’s a lot of real-life evidence to the contrary… which is, of course, a major point of this bloggish tirade.)
“Autistic people are clumsy and uncoordinated.” I wish I had a video of my twin swordfighting. That would prove you wrong…
“Autistic people lack empathy.” Um… No. Actually, I have too damn much. The trouble is, too many people think seeing and understanding something means agreeing with it, and that’s not true at all. If you think not agreeing with a bully who’s inflicting actual physical harm means I’m not showing enough empathy for that bully, you don’t fucking get it… and you’re the one who needs to learn what empathy — even the “garden variety” kind that most people are supposed to have to some degree or another — actually means. I have scars as a result of too much agreeing with what other people think/feel about me.
“Autism is just another name for mental retardation.” Oh, for cryin’ out loud! If you’re going to throw ridiculous ideas like that around, at least update your terminology, okay? The current term is intellectual disability. Here’s the thing, though: at least as far back as the early 1990s (when I was getting a bachelor’s degree in secondary education), it was known (even in Kentucky!) that autism has nothing to do with intelligence. Some autistic people are below average; some are average; some are above average. Y’know, just like humans. (Should I apologize for my sharp-edged humor? Nah.)
“Autistic people don’t have feelings.” Really??? *shakes head in disbelief at the stupidity* So, what? I’m expressing someone else’s anger and frustration…? (Sometimes I do, because sometimes I feel someone else’s feelings. *shrug* This is not one of those times, though.) Some of us have difficulty expressing our feelings at times, but so do you.
“Autistic people are good at memorizing random facts, but they can’t apply those facts or use them, because they don’t know what they mean.” If you believe that, why were you ever coming here to read my “Writing Glitch” posts anyway? What could I possibly tell you about grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure that you couldn’t learn far better from Facebook and Twitter memes?