Is there an #autistic way of being friends?

four groups of four people, with one person in front
Friendship means different things to different people

I want to take a step back and reconsider something that comes up a lot in discussions about Autism / Aspergers – the concept of friendship. I’m not sure we’re thinking about this clearly. It could be that we’re applying neurotypical measures and values to the criteria for who’s a friend and what friendship constitutes. And I’m not sure it’s serving us. I think it may be causing a lot of us to think we’re lonelier (and more alone) than we really are.

I am beginning to suspect that Autism / Aspergers comes with its own unique brand of friendship. And that distinct “friendotype” is no less valid than the neurotypical type — it can be every bit as fulfilling, and it might just help to make the world a better place.

The sooner we stop measuring our friendships by neurotypical measures — and we quit feeling badly about who we are because we “don’t measure up” to non-autistic standards — the happier we’ll be.

At least that’s what I think.

Let me speak for myself. I suspect others will agree. Hear me out.

Let’s look at the dictionary to see how “friend” is defined:

friend
noun
a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Most people would not say they “know” someone until they’ve spent a great deal of time with them, been through a number of good and bad experiences with them, and have “gotten to know” them. But most people aren’t autistic. Most people aren’t empathic. Most people aren’t so highly sensitive to others, that they can “pick up” on what’s going on with that other person in an instant.

As for the bond of mutual affection, most people (in the neurotypical model) spend a lot of time withholding their affection. They’re stuck in the idea that they’re separate and apart from everyone and everything around them. And crossing the chasm of interpersonal differences is a monumental effort for many. So, bonds of mutual affection don’t get created for quite some time, until certain criteria are met.

Exclusive of sexual or family relations — that’s actually easily dispatched with many autistic folks, as we don’t automatically interact with others in a sexual way. Unless we’re hypersexual autistics (it happens — I used to be that way, years ago)… then things get trickier. But nowadays, I have no more interest in having sex with random people I meet and connect with, than I have in having surgery. The two seem equally intricate and intimate to me, as well as potentially painful and … fraught.

So, on those three official criteria strike me as particularly neurotypical in nature. And they don’t allow for any autism (or empathy, for you non-autistic empaths in the audience) in the definition. Again, it’s a case of mob-rule assumptions about how people are, how they behave, and what “should” happen as a result.

Now, let’s talk about the “folk” definition of friendship. Friends are people whom you feel you can talk to about anything, who can — and will — step up and support you in your hour of need, thanks to the personal bond you have with them. They’ll come to your assistance, no matter what. And they’ll put up with your sh*t with long-suffering grace, because, well, they’re you’re friend.

And you’d do the same for them.

Here’s my issue with this model:

First, not everyone is completely unable to connect with others, except under select circumstances, after years of history with them.

Some of us can actually connect with others on a deep personal level, regardless of how well we know them or how long we’ve known them. It can happen very quickly. It does happen very quickly for many autistic folks. We can be highly empathic. We can sense our similarities and connections with others. We can co-experience others’ moods and state of mind/body/spirit. And we can establish a really close bond with those others almost instantly. (It’s a lot less wonderful than it sounds, by the way. It can be pretty confusing, frustrating and tiring.)

Because we can empathically connect with others, we actually meet the first official criterion for friendship — we know (yes, literally know) other people on a deeply personal level. And it can happen much, much more deeply than in neurotypical cases.

Second, we actually can have “a bond of mutual affection” with the people to whom we connect instantly.

Not only can we feel a bond with them, but they can feel a bond with us. We see them. We know them. We can co-experience their lives and widen our own in the process. And others may really respond to that sense of connection. People crave understanding. They crave feeling known and recognized. They hunger for the type of acceptance some of us can offer them, and they thirst for that sense of being “seen” as who they are. They get what they need from us, when we’re empathically connected with them. And that can form a close, almost uncanny bond that’s a welcome change from your standard-issue alienation that most folks marinate in, socially speaking.

For the record, this is not a “faux” connection. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s unique. And for some of us on the spectrum, it can be a way of life. Everyday autistic life.

Of course, empathicness doesn’t necessarily pick and choose between fun people to connect with and the miserable people who cross our paths. So, we can end up inadvertently connecting with and forming a bond with toxic people we should run from — but who feel a deep connection with us, because we’re co-experiencing (and hence supposedly validating) their experience.

And then we come to the absence of family / sexual relations.

This may actually be the crux of why autistic friendship patterns can be so different from non-autistic friendotypes. It seems to me that non-autistic people are much more closely aligned with people who are related to them by blood, or who have had sex with them. In fact, it seems at times as though some allistic folks use blood ties and sexual relations as a way to build their social circle.

If you’re related, somehow that overrides countless other considerations (is someone an a**hole? are they a predator? a moocher? a problem?) Apparently, there’s some inborn obligation to put up with them, to interact with them, to keep them in your social circle… as long as you’ve got a blood connection with you. Likewise, if you have adopted siblings, others may treat them like they’re not really part of the family. Or if you’ve got a “step-parent”, according to some, they’re not really your parent. It seems arbitrary to me. And it’s based on something you cannot control, you haven’t chosen, something that fate’s pretty much foisted upon you. Maybe you get lucky, maybe you don’t. But according to non-autistic guidelines of who matters and who doesn’t, if you’re connected by blood/marriage, that counts for more than personality and/or what you bring to the dynamic.

And then you have “sexual relations” which are not just just having sex with someone, exchanging fluids, making babies, etc. It’s also about interacting with others in a sexualized way: flirting, innuendo, all those little hints and wink-wink-nudge-nudge vagaries that tend to frustrate and confound autistic folks. It seems sometimes like non-autistic people are constantly “on the make” — always looking for sexual partners, constantly talking about sex, joking and hinting and whatnot. It’s like they use sex as a shortcut to connect with other people… maybe because they can’t (or don’t want to) connect in other ways?

Am I onto something here? Autistic folks connect above the neck… Non-autistics connect below the waist…? Or am I just stereotyping and being unfair? There’s always that chance.

Or perhaps autistic ways of connecting are more… pervasive than non-autistics? We can definitely be more sensitive, more empathic, more connected to our surroundings, and that both facilitates and complicates the relationships we have with people around us… to the point where culturally driven, somewhat chance-driven designations like blood connections and who’s available for mating are eclipsed by the swirling flow of sensory input that override our attention for those social conventions.

Anyway, all this being said, I’m more convinced than ever that autistic folks have different friendship patterns which are not less effective or less desirable than non-autistic friendship patterns. They’re just different from the ways the majority of folks build and sustain friendships.

If we struggle with friendships, it’s not because we’re doing it wrong. It’s because we have different patterns, different priorities, and others can’t accommodate / match us. The problem — again, there’s the social model — is that the relationships we form can become one-sided, lopsided in who’s doing how much work, and who’s actually benefit. An autistic person being drawn to a non-autistic person can be put at some kind of risk if that non-autistic person is incapable of understanding or reciprocating in a decent, humane way. Worst of all, is when the non-autistic person takes advantage of the autistic person, and the autistic person never realizes, because they can’t imagine why someone would do such a thing.

In any case, I’m continuously revising my understandings of things, and friendship patterns are just my latest fascination du jour.

Tomorrow, it might be something else.

I’m sure it will.

But for now, just for today… this is my revised understanding of friendships, on the rebound from my somewhat dismal declarations yesterday.

It’s a process. I never stop questioning, never stop learning. So it goes.

Very friendly… very few friends

person standing along a fencerow with a sunset in the distanceI caught sight of something on Twitter, this morning: A mention of knowing lots of people, but not having many actual friends.

I’m the same way. I know countless people. And even folks I don’t actually know — well I tend to get along with even them. Other people apparently love me, from what I can tell. I’m open, accepting, tolerant, I let them be who they are, and I can find common ground with them, no matter what our differences.

That’s great for the dynamic, but it doesn’t really do much for the actual relationship. I don’t know many people who actually know how and what I think about things, because it’s hard for me to put into words what exactly is going on with me. Writing is easier, but not everybody likes to read, these days, and anyway, social interactions are largely verbal, so…

The long and short of it all is that I have a lot of people who want to be my friends, but I have no interest in reciprocating. My friendliness is the extent of my interest in them. It’s not even necessarily interest in them, rather keeping the social interaction going. The vast majority of people I know would probably be pretty uncomfortable if they knew the truth about me and my challenges, which would end up isolating me a lot more than now. It’s just easier to mask and camouflage and simulate interest in interactions, rather than being authentically myself 100%.

Yeah, I know I should be past that. But seriously, I have a lot on my plate every day, and I just don’t have the energy or the interest in going that proverbial extra mile for the sake of authenticity.

Just get the interaction over without pain and bloodshed. That’s all I really want. I have no interest in being stigmatized, in being pushed aside, in being seen as less-than or disabled (even if I am really struggling, much of the time). And I’m a terrible activist. I lived in that world as a kid, and I’m done with it.

I really just want to get on with my life and do my thing, without having to worry about the fallout from my surroundings.

So, I continue on my way — very friendly, almost no friends. I’m very comfortable talking to strangers and striking up conversations… “connecting” with others in an impersonally personal way. But telling people what’s really going on with me? I’m not there… and I may never be.

So it goes. So it goes.

 

#AutismAwareness Month – What others think of me, is none of my business

Herakles and the Hydra Water Jar (Etruscan, c. 525 BC) - Herakles clubs the Hydra, while a crab assists it by attacking Herakles
It’s much easier to not even engage. Or is it?

It’s April. There’s a ton of mixed information about Autism churning through the aethers.

Lord help us.

I was getting all spun up about it, over the weeks leading up to April. Bracing for the onslaught. Girding my loins for war. Bristling at the thought of how often I’ve been told I can’t be autistic, frustrated at the lack of information — and the disinformation that’s being spread by ve$ted intere$t$ out to make a buck. Getting tweaked about what others think of me, or would think of me, or how they’d respond to me.

I have to say, I would love to rectify a lot of this, myself — inject some elightenment and enhanced autism awareness in the general populace. Even in my own family.

The thing is, a lot of what I think other people think / feel / assume about me, is inaccurate. Let’s face it — autism, in my case, is accompanied by social cluelessness and a really compromised ability to interpret what others are saying / thinking / feeling on the surface. Plus, I’ve got a supremely heightened awareness of what people are saying / thinking / feeling beneath the surface.  So, in some cases, I know more about them than they do. And that just leads to more confusion and “crossed wires”, when I try to engage with them.

People generally aren’t in touch with whats’ really going on inside of them, and when you interact with them on a deeper, more authentic level, it scares them. Because they can invest a whole lot of time in overlooking, denying, avoiding what’s really going on inside of them.

And it occurs to me, maybe this is really the crux of “social disconnects” between autistics and non-autistics — we autistics relate to how people really are, on the inside, while non-autistics expend huge amounts of energy avoiding how and what they truly are, deep down inside. And autistically authentic interactions scare the crap outa them.

Hmmm… maybe I’m onto something here… Well (shrug)… whatever.

Anyway, here’s the thing — I’m not getting spun up over all the ignorance and discrimination towards me, this month. Yes, it bothers me tremendously that there is still so much ignorance and lack of acceptance. Yes, I know it causes pain. The thing is, I’m not going to let it cause me more pain than it really does.

As in, I’m not going to fret over the rest of the world not “getting” me, not accepting me, not recognizing me for who I am. The rest of the non-autistic world frankly has no clue, and they have no reason to get a clue. They’re wrapped up in their own self-centered worlds, their own limited visions, their own officially sanctioned versions of reality. I have no control over that. And I’m not going to make myself miserable, living in constant reaction to that.

I have to advocate for myself.

I have to make it plain what I need from life.

I have to take responsibility for caring for myself, managing my environment and situations so that they don’t make me miserable.

I have to do my part to minimize my misery, to tell others what I need from them on a case-by-case basis, to not expect them to read my mind and anticipate what I need — because that’s so very different from what they expect and assume.

I have to put my “big girl pants” on , and deal with it. Because no one else will do it for me. Sorry. No government agency, no charity, no organization, no support group, no team of helpers is going to come to my rescue. They’re just not.

And that’s not necessarily a terrible thing.

When it comes to the whole autism awareness / acceptance thing, it seems to me that people assume certain things are going to result from an up-tick in both those things. That people will be more considerate. That they’ll understand more. That they’ll be more accommodating. That they’ll be more open and receptive.

I must be living in a very different world, because I expect none of those things to happen. People are self-centered — especially non-autistic people. They feel overwhelmed and put-upon in general, and they (from what I’ve observed) make every effort to surround themselves with like-minded people with similar characteristics and personality profiles.

And that doesn’t include autistic people, for the most part. Unless they have no clue that you’re autistic. Then you can be their friend.

Maybe that’s a Terrible Thing. Maybe it’s not.

Anyway, where that leaves me is with a divine indifference to the opinions of the general populace, when it comes to me and people like me. That also extends to opinions of the autistic “community” (such as it is), who may or may not agree with my point of view. I’ve been attacked. I’ve been blocked. I’ve been criticized and called “irritating”. Okay, fine. People are free to believe what they like. In then end, we all find out if what we think actually works. If others want to devote their lives to anger and outrage, that’s their lot. Not mine. I’m certainly not devoting my life to their anger and outrage.

It’s quite freeing, really, to let it go — to not get spun up over what others thing (good or ill). Not worrying about the drastic dip in my blog stats (“Augh! Nobody’s reading my stuff! Boo hoo!”) or the lack of follow and likes on Twitter and Facebook (“Oh no! Nobody’s noticing me! I’m so alone!”) … letting go of those standards lets me really, truly concentrate on the work itself, the writing in and of itself, the projects I’ve got going that add so much to my life and help me live the best way possible — for me.

I’m considering going for a whole week without checking my stats… not sure I can do it, but my stoic practice my require it. We’ll see how that shakes out.

Anyway, when it comes down to it, getting twisted up over what others think of me, is a recipe for despair. I have no control over it. I have no influence over strangers’ opinions. Everybody believes what they believe for very, very good reasons, very few of which I can discern. So, it’s best to let that go. Live my life. Write my words. Put them out there for others to read (and hopefully benefit from)… without getting too invested in a specific outcome.

It sounds a bit zen-like, and maybe it is.

At the core, however, it’s logic. Just reasonable logic. And I like that. Logic works for me.

When all else fails — including my estimation of others’ states of mind.

Okay, so it’s April… let the awareness onslaught begin

rear view mirror of a line of military vehicles driving through the snow
It’s hard to not feel like “they’re coming for us”.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson/Released)

I’m starting my day out right – with exercise of two kinds: riding my exercise bike for 20 minutes, then following with 10 minutes of light weight training. I had my “fluffy egg” — a whipped egg I cook in a non-stick pan with a plate laid over the top, so the egg fluffs up and turns into a kind of souffle (till I remove it from the stove and it collapses). I sip my 1/2 cup of coffee while I eat my fluffy egg, I take my Vitamin D3 and B-Complex, then I sit down to write and read, with a banana, a big cup of water, and what remains of my coffee.

It’s April! I need to take care of myself, for sure. The whole turn-on-blue-light-bulbs thing is, well, a popular thing. It means different things to different people, and to autistic people, it doesn’t always mean something good.

At work, we’re encouraged to wear blue on certain days to “show support” for autistic people and their families. Because, well, they’re all apparently young boys who make their parents feel “blue”, and we want to be supportive of the poor suffering families. Bummer. I have to figure out which days those are, because I don’t want to wear blue on those days. I’ll wear #RedInstead. But blue clothes are a significant portion of my very limited work wardrobe (5 pairs of slacks, 5 tops, all of which I mix-and-match, so I don’t have to figure out fashion sh*t, first thing in the morning). So, that complicates things.

Augh! I hate complication. Especially when I’ve got a great thing going with my routine, planned execution, and anticipated outcomes.

In April, especially, I really have no idea what the outcomes will be, so that’s disorienting. Ah, well. It’s a good reason to brush off my stoicism and put it to good use.

The major part  / lion’s share of my activities this month will be self-preservation-oriented. Taking good care of myself and my home (spring cleaning to get my mind off things!) as well as stuff at work. Winter is now in the proverbial rear-view mirror, and it’s time to kick things into action again.

Kicking things into action is very much about setting the direction for my own life for the coming month — and beyond. I can’t be derailed by misinformation programs, propaganda, etc. I have no control over the people behind it. I can provide alternative views — and post videos and other information on the company intranet, when people start waxing eloquent about the trials and tribulations of autism.

There are things I can do.

But I can’t control the outcomes. So, I need to really focus on my own self, my own direction, my own priorities, and not let my life be derailed by the underhanded agenda$ of people who don’t want what’s best for me.

Yep, self-care is in order. As is stoicism.

And actually having fun with stuff. It’s been snowing for 24 hours, now, and there’s more snow coming down on top of the slush that built up overnight. A lovely snow day, for sure. And Saturday, on top of it!

April is showing up with its unique challenges — which I accept.

I accept my autism and all the intricacies of daily life that come with it. I accept my uniquely challenging situation, given my singular temperament and personality. I accept the difficulties that go along with being unrecognized and unsupported by the standards of mainstream society. I have no problem with being on the outside and being misunderstood. And as such, it’s incumbent up on me to “hold my sh*t” in the course of my daily life and live up to everything that crosses my path, for good or ill.

April is one of those “things”. So, here it is. I won’t say “Bring it on!” because it needs no encourage from me. It’s here, whether I like it or not. What I choose to do with it, is up to me.

#Autistic logic has saved me so many times, it’s not even funny.

 

girl walking down forest path

I was eight years old, playing by myself in the field up the street from my house, when logic saved me from being possibly abducted and definitely sexually assaulted by a creepy white guy in a big car.

It was early afternoon on a Saturday, and I was climbing the high chain-link fence that divided the field from the next neighborhood over. In my typical Aspie girl way, I was talking to myself and entertaining myself greatly by hanging from the fence about 10 feet off the ground, and walking my way along its length, toes in the chain links, fingers wrapped around the rough metal in front of me.

I often played in that field alone. I preferred it that way. Occasionally, I ran into another kid, but that seldom went well. I said something they didn’t like, or I misunderstood what they said to me. Once, I was attacked by a black girl who was furious about my ancestors enslaving hers. It was the days of the Black Panthers, so of course she was furious. And rightly so. I tried to suss out the logic around my ancestors actually being persecuted in Europe for their religious views and having had nothing to do with slavery, but my rationale was unwelcome. That ended poorly. I didn’t get hurt too badly, but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t make my case clear, and I couldn’t convince her that I was her friend. I was being too much the pedantic Aspie. I probably sounded condescending and insulting, to be honest.

Yeah, I’m sure of it.

Another time, another girl let me hold her dog’s leash and told me I should wrap the leash around my hand, so the dog wouldn’t get loose. I misunderstood and deliberately didn’t wrap the leash around my hand, and the dog (he was big) got away from me. We spent quite some time trying to catch that damn’ dog. We did, but I never got to hang out with her again.

Being alone at the field was my refuge. It was the one place I could escape the constant sensory overload of my mother’s on other-end-of-the-spectrum hyposensitive, sensory-seeking ways. The noise. The banging. The chaos. The radio turned up loud. The singing at the top of her lungs. The constant movement, the constant contact — her bumping into me and everything, because she couldn’t feel where her body was in space.

The field and its empty expanse was my refuge.

So, there I was, climbing the fence, talking to myself enthusiastically, enjoying my vociferous solitude. And up drives this big car with a white man behind the wheel. I barely noticed him, and when he called out to me, I didn’t pay any attention to him. He was on the other side of the fence, sitting in his big-ass 1973-ish behemoth of a car, idling in the alley behind a neighborhood that was predominantly Black. The only white people who came into this area (other than a few families who lived on my street), were the workers who showed up at the businesses cate-corner from our house. There were a handful of warehouses and small companies on the other side of the intersection, and the only time I saw unfamiliar white people, was during business hours, Monday through Friday.

It was Saturday. What was this white man doing in his car in the alley behind a Black neighborhood?

Made no sense. Something was up.

He kept talking to me, acting like he knew me. Pffft. He didn’t know me. What the hell? Then he starts asking me if I want some candy.

“No,” I said. “I’m not hungry. And my mother told me not to eat candy between meals.”

Then he asks me if I’d ever seen “one of these”. He was holding something in his hands. I couldn’t see inside the car, so I moved along the fence, staying up high, and I saw his pants zipper was open and he was holding his dick in his hand.

“Yes,” I said dismissively. “I have a brother.”

He asked again if I wanted some candy and wanted to come down and talk to him.

“No,” I said in all honestly. I had no interest. He was boring. Plus, it was starting to seem creepy. Even at eight years old, I could tell something was up with this guy, and it wasn’t good.

I started to climb down from the fence. I wanted to go home.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Home,” I said. “It’s time for dinner.”

“But it’s the middle of the afternoon,” he protested.

“My mother is calling me,” I said, as I turned and started to run for home. As fast as I could. I had to get out of there. All the signs told me something was very, very wrong.

I ran across the field, as I heard him calling behind me. Then, for some reason, I stopped and turned. I had to get his license plate and report him.

I started to run back towards the car, in hopes of memorizing his license plate. But when he saw me running towards him, he gunned his engine and took off. And I stood there in the middle of the field feeling grossed out and disappointed that I hadn’t gotten his license plate. Damn!

I went home and never mentioned this. In fact, I forgot all about it until I was in college and I was thinking about kids being abducted.

If I hadn’t been a little Aspie girl, things might have ended up very differently. Logic saved me then.

And it continues to. I can’t even count the number of times that basic reasoning has averted disaster. This example is just one of so many.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

My #ActuallyAutistic opinion of mainstream portrayals and understanding of #autistic people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Autistic canaries in the neurotypical coal mines

Coal Miners Canary Trinidad, CO
Coal Miners Canary Trinidad, CO

Woo hoo! World Autism Awareness Week is now officially underway. It goes from today till the 2nd of  April, whereupon Autism Awareness Month picks up and rolls on through the month of April.

So, yeah, big trigger warning for lots of us.

A lot of folks say that we don’t need autism awareness, we need autism acceptance. I think we need both. People outside the neurodiversity community are so woefully behind the times, so vexed and misled by inaccurate, flawed, harmful, dangerous information about this “epidemic”… I’m fine with all the awareness we can get.

‘Cause we’re not there yet.

Not even close.

There’s always that talk about how autism is a source of suffering, and I’d just like to say a few things about that. Autism is NOT a source of suffering. Our environment is — sensory and social.

The obnoxious scents. The random touching. The awful lighting. The blaring music. The non-food that we’re fed, including all the antibiotics and hormones that screw up our sensitive systems. The artificial unreality that passes for “standard” just stresses us out on every level, kicking off allergic reactions and stress responses that crowd out the social cues we’re supposed to just magically pick up without any effort on our part.

And then there’s the logistics of just getting through the day in a world that congratulates itself on multi-tasking, loudness, chaos (apparently, it’s inspirational for non-autistic people?), constant activity without reflection, arbitrary rules of engagement that favor liars and cheats and self-absorbed “takers”…   All of the above is the problem. Not my neurotype.

So, quit blaming autism for my (and your) issues. Autism isn’t the “culprit”.

All the characteristics that people love to chalk up to “autism” are actually symptoms of being forced to live in the non-autistic world.

It’s not just a non-autistic world, it’s the entitlement, the privilege, the assumptions, the enforcement of ways of being that are innately foreign — even harmful — to us, as well as to everyone else. Think the neurotypical world’s standards are a great idea? How’s that working out for everyone? Just look at who/what is in power in the USA and UK. Just look at how things are turning. Just look at the oceans, choked with plastics and killing off deep-sea creatures before we even have a chance to realize they exist.

Autistic folks are like canaries in the coal mine. We’re ultra-sensitive, and we pick up on what’s going on. Just like the hapless birds in cages that coal miners used to lower into mine shafts, to make sure there wasn’t too much gas that would kill them, we’re sensitive to what others cannot detect. And it hurts us, even kills us, when we’re kept in it too long.

If the canary died, it didn’t mean the bird was defective. Oh, sure, I’m certain that was the case, every now and then. But the assumption was NOT that the bird was too weak or too deficient or too weird to make it in the mine shaft. It was a clear indicator that something was wrong. And it wasn’t safe for the miners to descend. All those canaries. Poor things.

Likewise, if an autistic child or adult is struggling with their issues — stimming, rocking, having trouble socially and logistically, under constant sensory overload — let’s apply the same standards. It’s not the autist who’s got a problem. It’s the world in which they’re forced to live and operate… expected to function, as though everything were just fine.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, autism is NOT the symptoms. It’s a distinct neurotype, which responds to environmental hostilities with symptoms. Let’s not confuse the symptoms for the neurotype. I know the vast majority of folks do, but maybe, just maybe, we can inject a little more awareness around that into the general populace.

It would be a start.

Have a good week… and ensuing month, everyone.

Stay safe out there.