autistic hedgehog

[“But you seem so normal!”

Give it time.]

I’m not denying that this is a really insulting, ableist thing to say, because it is. But it’s also almost always said to me by people who’ve spent hours, or even only minutes, around me.

Like, you haven’t seen me curled up on in a sobbing puddle because public transportation. You haven’t seen me home alone with only my iPod and my horrible white girl dance moves to keep me company. You haven’t seen me that time I was ranting to my husband and kept stopping mid-sentence to gleefully squish my Hello Kitty squishy things. You haven’t seen me running the satin ribbon on the edge of my blanket through my hands over and over again. You haven’t heard even a tiny fraction of the sorts of things that come out of my mouth. And most importantly, you sure as hell didn’t see my fucked up childhood and everything I went through, being an autistic girl in a public school during a time when people were only just beginning to even acknowledge that girls could be autistic. 

So to the people who tell me I seem so normal, I say to you: Sadly, so do you. 

[“Students with autism gravitate toward STEM majors.”

And what about the other 66% of us?]

So this article has been floating around the autism tag for the past several days now. STEM majors, for those who don’t know, are science, technology, engineering and mathematics–you know, all those things Hollywood and “experts” like Simon Baron-Cohen seem to be convinced all autistics are good at.

The headline makes it sounds like this is HUGE news. But if one actually reads the article, one will see that the number is roughly 34% (autistics) versus roughly 23% (allistics) (see, Baron-Cohen, I rounded the numbers up and down! Whoo hoo, math genius, right here! *snort*). 

Thirty-four percent isn’t even half. It’s a minority of us. Where’s the study on what the rest of us like to do with ourselves? I mean, not that I think it’s going to come out of Simon Baron-Cohen (the co-author of this paper) because he seems to aim to study only topics that will confirm his pet hypotheses for him. 

What bothers me is how many people will see the headline, not actually read the article, and think they’ve learned something significant about autistics. You know they will. And then next thing you know one of us is sitting with the family at Thanksgiving and Auntie Esther is all “Why don’t you become a scientist? That’s what autistic people do. All the studies say so!” Blargh.

Asperger's Syndrome Primer: How it Feels in My Head - A Guide for the Terminally Allistic

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[Allistic Perception: Socially awkward people just use it as an excuse to be lazy.

Autistic Perception: OH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT SOUND MAKE IT STOP need to stim now Oh YUCK texture bleh bus full of people CAN’T BREATHE hey check out everything I know about–ooo shiny is that person smiling at me is it a real smile or a smile-frown is a smrown?]

Because I just had to wake up to the continuation of this nonsense this morning. 

Apparently some allistics simply can’t resist the belief that they know so much more about what it means to be autistic than actual autistic people. Of course, those of us who are autistic know that allistics would be hard-pressed to deal with the constant barrage of sensory perceptions, distractions, confusion, anxiety and fears we face on a daily basis.

So here, allistics, is a glimpse inside the general process of my brain. It doesn’t really slow down or shut up pretty much ever, and this is actually a pretty tame example, but baby steps. Clearly this lesson needs to be approached in small, bite-sized pieces of information for those of you who have yet to dislodge your heads from your asses. 

(Hedgehogs, feel free to send your own examples. An AS diagnosis is not necessary–we’re all autistic here anyway, regardless. In fact, please send your own examples.)

[“Don’t touch me”

Means don’t fucking touch me!]

Recently I posted an anon Hedgehog that said “Don’t touch me” doesn’t mean I hate you. And this is very much the truth for autistic people.

But also, lately I’ve seen far too many autistics on tumblr talking about how when they tell people they don’t like to be touched, people do it anyway. Sometimes people even do it more. That is so fucked up, I made this Hedgehog.

Touching people without their permission is bad enough. Purposefully touching people even more when they’ve explicitly stated they don’t like it is positively despicable. Do not be that person. 

[Made fun of by family for “strange” food habits

No one ever says a word about allistic sister eating cold ravioli for breakfast every day for years]

hate being teased for me eating habits, and my family has done it to me for years. Yes, there’s a lot of things I can’t eat. Yes, I tend to eat the same thing over and over again. There’s numerous reasons for this, some of them seated in the way autistics are treated, some of them a direct trait of the autism.

A lot of it is to do with my texture issues. Thanksgiving was always like the worst thing ever: Mashed potatoes, all kinds of mashed up squashes, tons of things with wonky textures, and of course I got teased because all I would eat was turkey and cranberry sauce. I can’t help that I have so many texture issues. Believe me, I wish I didn’t. 

I also get nervous about trying something different, for example, at a restaurant. I’m afraid I won’t like it (more because of texture than taste). Not only was my father always a stickler about not “wasting” food (I had to stay at the table until my plate was finished), but because other people didn’t have my texture problems, they didn’t believe me. I spent years convinced the problem was in my head.

But my sister, who doesn’t appear to have texture problems, would go through phases of eating the same thing. Ramen for breakfast (yes, breakfast) for years, cold ravioli, broccoli with dinner every night for months. When she did it, it was at most a bit quirky. Me? I was some sort of unnatural fucking weirdo.

[“You go to conventions and enjoy them? You can’t be autistic!”

So wait, which do I stop spending my money on? The cons or the noise-dampening headphones?]

Admittedly, the last time I was at a convention, the noise and crowds were too much for me to handle. This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself at all, but I had no way to combat the issues I did have. Thinking about it, I figure noise-dampening headphones would be a pretty good way to get around some of the issues that crowded con halls might cause, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some autistics do just that so they can enjoy their cons without so much overstimulation.

Which, I think, would lead to some confusion when it comes to this particular statement. Which one are you supposed to give up!? (That was not a serious question, I’m being facetious.)