No More “Glitches” for a While (with long and tirade-y explanation including things that aren’t grammar-related)

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?

 

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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19 Responses to No More “Glitches” for a While (with long and tirade-y explanation including things that aren’t grammar-related)

  1. Great post – gave me a good afternoon laugh. But I’ll miss your writing glitches. They helped me as I struggle with using grammar and punctuation. Still, I’ve read enough of them that I’ve developed habits. I ask myself, “What would Thomas Weaver say about using a comma here?”

    You’ve really helped me, so thanks for all those post. I know it’s not good-bye, and that’s not what I’m writing. But it allows me to write, “So long, and thanks for all the glitches.”

    Cheers

    Liked by 3 people

    • Excellent pun, sir.

      I haven’t given up on finishing The Grumpy, Grouchy Old Man’s Guide to Grammar. It contains a lot of the sort of thing I put in the “glitch” posts, plus a section of homophone glitches that I hope will make readers laugh a lot as they learn how to tell the various homophones apart. (Title for that section is “Give the Devil His ‘Do.”) So people who found my “glitch” posts useful aren’t entirely out of luck, and sometime soon I’m going to compile a list of other web sites that offer similar advice (but probably without the same sarcasm and freaking out over misplaced comma).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. M. Oniker says:

    Sigh. I can’t “like” this post because obviously some douchebag (do the comments have to be polite too, or just your blog posts?) said/did something that was the last straw. I understand very well the need to step back from blogging or Facebook or whatever because of the overwhelmingness (spell check is claiming that’s a word) of douchery (spell check likes that one, too) that so-called normal people exhibit way too frequently. I did, after all, shut down my blogs (and also my Facebook which no one in the Blogosphere knew about). So I get it. I hope venting here, in this post, helps you get through the frustration.

    On the other hand, while I haven’t been posting, I do lurk. I’ve been a bad lurker in that I haven’t put likes onto pages (ok, spell check now hates “onto”, fine… ON, I haven’t put likes ON pages) or made comments, but yours is one of the first blogs I followed on WordPress. I like your posts. So I will miss them if you stay gone.

    I have followed you a long time, so I know that you have that label of being autistic. I forget it until you bring it up. And I’m always a little surprised when you do, like, “Oh yeah, I remember that now. He’s autistic.” I read you because I like your snarky humor and your geeky fascination with grammar. I read you because I learn from you and not just grammar. I have never thought, “Oh, this blog is really good for being written by an autistic!” Never has crossed my mind. I totally get your humor, can see the intelligence and empathy. (Because I have decently high IQ, I’m supposed to be a whiz at Rubik’s cubes. Hahahahaha, and, uh no. Which, btw, proved to a troll that I lied about my IQ because “everyone knows…”)

    I generally am intimidated to write comments because I KNOW I’m sloppy with my grammar, even when I’m trying to be good. The freshman-in-college me could write perfect grammatical rings around what I slap out now. I figger you’re sitting there with a red pen, circling things. You’re stocking up my poorly written comments for future posts. Counting the comma splices.

    Yes, yes, I wandered into rambling quite a while ago. I just wanted to write something and wasn’t quite sure what to write, and so I guess I decided to write all the things. So, I’ll stop. {{{hug}}}

    Liked by 3 people

    • WordPress’ spell checker is weird; there are days when it doesn’t like the word comma. I suspect it just can’t tell the difference between on to and onto, so it assumes both are wrong, regardless of usage.

      ” I read you because I like your snarky humor and your geeky fascination with grammar.” The snarky humor, I’ve always had. The geeky fascination with grammar… I didn’t have an interest in it until I realized that I could make a living from it.

      “Because I have decently high IQ, I’m supposed to be a whiz at Rubik’s cubes. Hahahahaha, and, uh no. Which, btw, proved to a troll that I lied about my IQ because “everyone knows…”) I hate Rubik’s Cubes. That’s probably why I quickly figured out how to take one apart and put it back together with the squares in the right positions. Or a checkerboard, or whatever. (Using the Rubik’s Cube as an example did help me teach a particular geometry lesson to a bunch of sixth-graders — I accidentally typed that as “sith-graders” at first — how to apply formulas for surface area and whatnot.) Smart people are supposed to be obsessed with puzzles of all sorts, and… Well, I’m not.

      I DON’T PROOFREAD COMMENTS, not even in my head. (If I can understand what the other person means, it’s all good. If I can’t understand what the other person means, I get upset and blame myself for the failure to communicate clearly…)

      Long, rambly comments are good; they make me feel appreciated and noticed and stuff, like someone is thinking of me as a real person. (As the quote goes, “Think of me as human — it’s easier pretending when somebody plays along.”)

      Liked by 3 people

      • M. Oniker says:

        Yeah, you’ve said you don’t proofread comments. That doesn’t stop me from thinking of you, with a cat sitting next to your monitor. The cat sticks a claw out and tinks on the screen. “Mrawr!” Meaning, “Look, she’s messing up the verb tenses again! Did you see the comma splices? My god, man!” You can’t help but see the errors when a cat makes such a big deal out of them. I know these things.

        Liked by 3 people

        • My cats, being somewhat multilingual (they know snippets of Welsh, Thari, Sinda, Normarish, and probably some Threnendaran North-River Common that they’re refusing to tell me about), sometimes have trouble keeping track of which grammar/punctuation rules go with which language, so they’re hardly experts on whether or not to use a comma in a given sentence. (Seriously, a comma could have made sure “Speak friend and enter” couldn’t be mistaken for “Speak, friend, and enter.” Know what I mean?) For all I know, they think a comma doesn’t go at the end of a clause if that clause has recently had a “pedicure day” (claws trimmed — five of my six cats are ladies, so calling a claw-trimming a pedicure makes them okay with having it done).

          ‘Sides, have you ever heard how American Cat and American English translate between each other? “Don’t do that” in English translates (roughly) as “Not to be doing!” in Cat. And half of their “commas” and other punctuation are expressed as body/facial language, which can’t be expressed in our writing system. A human may learn to use hand gestures and such to imitate the ear flicks and whisker positions of Cat language, but it’s a poor substitute. (At least I’ve sort of got the eye-blinks down well enough to make myself understood for basic stuff such as ‘I like you, but I really don’t care what you think of my clothing choices today.’)

          Liked by 3 people

  3. J.R. Handley says:

    I’ll miss the blogs, but you’ve gotta take care of yourself first! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with being stereotyped.

    I appreciated your posts. You even convinced me to buy the Chicago Manual, even if I only ever turn to it in an emergency. Okay, never. I never turn to it. It sits on the bookshelf mocking me. But at least it’s there.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. curioushart says:

    Well, I am sorry that you won’t be writing your glitches any more–I loved them. I am appalled that people would say such unkind and unjustifiable things to you about autism. I have always considered your blog one of the most intelligent and well-written ones that I read. I appreciate you being you.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I was wondering what happened and I stopped receiving your email notifications. I was really looking forward to those glitches. Thanks for the things you taught me through those glitches (yeah, I saved a few of those for later use as a reference).

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Sheron says:

    I just appreciated and needed the grammar lessons. Sometimes it confirmed what I thought, at other times I learned something new. I even downloaded the new book by the clone. That’s what mattered to me…plus you didn’t splash water all over me.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. One of the best posts I’ve read in a long time! And I read lots of great posts 😁. I simply, totally love this! Your tirade ranty side is the best! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼💙💜

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on the silent wave and commented:
    I simply *had* to share this! It’s just too good not to. Myths dispelled, stereotypes shredded, and just enough well-placed F-bombs to make you chuckle. Not that it’s funny that this wonderful blogger received the bone-headed comments he did that fueled the post, that is; I look forward to the day when autistic people don’t have to hear comments like that or deal with the mentality behind them. But I think the author used his discontent rather constructively, not to mention brilliantly!–and it’s totally worth the read. Excellent post! (**Applause!!**)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Even in Kentucky…👏👏😂😂 Fantastic post!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Janika Banks says:

    This is my all time fave autism post. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

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