Positive perspectives from one autistic point of view
Posted Nov 10 2008 4:51pm
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.