I have heard many things since being diagnosed with high functioning autism that have upset or angered me. I’ve also seen many of these lists, and decided to make my own based off of my own experiences.
1. “But you seem so normal!”
This is not a compliment. Saying this dismisses the fact that I have autism because I pull off not having it so well. This is the thing that annoys me the most, because yes, I have worked very hard to get the point of high functioning that I am, but I don’t want to be high functioning in reality. I want the world to adapt to me, not for me to adapt to the world.
2. “Does that mean you can’t feel empathy/have no emotion?”
No. My emotions are so heightened that when I feel them, I often feel many at the same time, or an emotion too strongly, so it’s not very easy to work out what I’m feeling in the moment. I’ll have to talk through what’s going on in my head with someone to be able to work out how I feel about something. I also understand a lot of the time why people feel the way they do, but it’s very difficult for me to process what’s happened as if it were me in that situation if I have not experienced a similar situation.
3. “I think I’ve got autism too”
This annoys me because usually people will tell me this and then list a lot of autistic traits that many neurotypicals get too. Just because you don’t understand what to do in particular social situations, it does not mean that you have autism. Of course, if you really do think that you’ve got it and are asking me for my experiences of having autism to see how much you relate, I don’t get as annoyed because you’re not just listing off generic symptoms such as being socially awkward. And you’re also asking me for my experiences, something that rarely happens. Having autism and being socially awkward are different. There are many things that can occur because of having autism, such as a routine I have to follow or having a meltdown because of the smallest changes being made to plans.
4. “Doesn’t that mean that you’re just really awkward?”
Yes, yes it does, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make me more awkward and uncomfortable. Ways to do this are asking how autism affects me and what you can do to help.
5. “What’s your obsession?”
Don’t call it my obsession, it’s my special interest, and don’t ask to begin with. If we’re going to become friends you’ll hear about how I thought Jennifer Aniston’s character development in Friends was absolutely amazing except for the fact that she got off that damn plane for a man who has spent 10 years being a whiny jerk. And don’t get annoyed at me for going on about it. If it does annoy you, tell me nicely to stop talking about it as much.
6. “People with autism are so annoying”
I can’t believe that some people would tell me this. I have been told how some people can’t deal with lower functioning people than I am, which upsets me so much because I can be low functioning depending on the situation, and want to present myself as my natural lower functioning self instead of using so much energy to be as high functioning as I am. I’ve also heard multiple times that other people who are annoying in social situations are “probably autistic”. Whether they have autism or not, your tone of voice and the use of the words “autism” and “autistic” make them sound derogatory. I have a hard enough time accepting that I have autism without you making it out to be something that is bad and wrong. Most people who say these things know that I have high functioning autism, but most people are so ignorant that they would still say this to me without considering my feelings first.
7. Don’t make fun of my personal space
I’ve had friends do this is the past which can be quite frustrating and upsetting, so now I don’t tend to tell people that I need personal space. This has resulted in me being very exhausted by friends who don’t know/understand this. Respect that fact that I need to be left alone and don’t like people touching me or being near me, and keep your hands to yourself!
8. Don’t get angry at me if I go on and on about something
If I’m talking too much about something, it’s because I enjoy it and want to tell other people about it (and also show off my extensive knowledge), or it’s because I don’t understand something and need to go over it a few times in my head before I can even come close to understanding. If I’m talking too much because I enjoy something, politely tell me that I’m talking too much, and if I’m talking too much because I don’t understand something, help me understand. Don’t just tell me to “get over it”, because this essentially doesn’t validate my feelings and makes me very upset. The least you can do is listen.