Imagine, if you will, someone who has been autistic without knowing for their whole life. Alienated. Overwhelmed. Confused. Trying, and failing, to fit in. Exhausted from trying to meet invisible and often unobtainable standards.
Then they finally discover what “autism” means via self or official diagnosis. Lightbulb moments. Gradual new understandings. A minefield of (sometimes inaccurate or misleading) information to wade through, to assimilate, to make sense of.
And with this research they find people with shared experience. Finally, people who understand! That feeling of alienation? It lessens each time a new connection is made, a new friendship is forged, a confusion is cleared up.
And then all hell breaks loose. Maybe you didn’t understand what low/high functioning meant. Maybe you used the word aspergers rather than autistic. Maybe you read a book by a neurotypical author. Perhaps you publicly suggested that your newfound social circle could have a name. Perhaps you didn’t personally research the scientific data when you repeated something you heard.
And now you are right back at school.
Somehow it’s apparently deemed acceptable for other people to ridicule you, to swear at you, to block you for using the “wrong” words. For not understanding the political implications, for being emotionally honest. This sounds familiar…
And, hold on a minute… who are these online twitter police? Other autistics! Do they not understand how much damage they do to someone with a sensitive disposition? Are they aware of the irony, when they attack in this fashion, that those of us in the actually autistic community do not hold with “theory of mind” or “lack of empathy” theories.
I’ve really had enough of this behaviour. I avoid much social interaction so as not to have to witness bullying and I certainly don’t want to have to see it in my twitter feed either. I don’t think that autistics attacking autistics is acceptable. Many of us use Twitter as an opportunity to reach out, to share, to comfort, to laugh. Let’s keep that safe.