I was diagnosed autistic last year. It's not like it was that big a blow to me, I had been suspicious for only a few years prior. I'm writing this because I'm burnt out from family Christmas events and inability to draw so...I blog!
Lets cut to the chase. I have trouble connecting to others, not that it makes me some miserable loner, but that I'm just aware of my struggles. Everyone wants connection, but how does autism make it just that much harder?
Autism and rudeness
I had a weird experience with an older man on the autism spectrum I talked to at a Meetup. He was insistent that I was masking around him. His concept of 'masking' equated to being 'insincere and a liar' rather than simply 'a face one wears in social interactions'. I politely retorted that this was how I act and that I open up when I feel like it. Well, with this guy, he felt like he understands autistic people, and feels like people owe him an authentic way of existing. He has no filter and demands others to scream, rant, and cry without one just like him.
Life doesn't operate that way. People put up barriers, because it's fucking rude to ask someone why they're single or something along those intimate lines.
As an AUTISTIC WOMAN I have had to learn the hard way about these barriers. I have learnt through blow upon brutal blow, to not make mistakes. Been chastised for cutting someone's conversation off, or heck, for even not making eye contact enough with bad men on bad dates. There are a plethora of ways the 'normie' world expects anyone to act. I repeat, anyone. It's just that being on the spectrum means you really experience physical and mental suffering through changing your behavior.
Changing involves, not stimming (pacing, drawing, fidgeting are the ones of mine that sound normal), trying to mimic the mannerisms (both bodily and vocal) of people who seem more successful with socializing. For me this involves distinctly changing how to hold myself, yeah....like I tend to want to slump and fidget with the spinny ring on my right ring finger.
I know that it comes across as rude, and I know if I do this 'rude' behavior too often I jeopardize connections and may make people dislike me. This instinct has a primal origin, heck, you can't find a mate if you're kicked out of the tribe.
Autism and the female experience
For autistic females, many of us say that our male counterparts get away with a lot more, and it is considered charming. Whereas an autistic woman is seen as an outcast, rude, weird and whatnot. Another example of sexist stereotypes that are unspoken, one saying that women are meant to be mature 'givers' and if we cannot fulfill typical roles such as being the mother or wife, we are invalid. We are witches. Unmarriable and undesirable. Hey, it's not that bad, join the club.
I didn't want autism to be this big part of my personality. I wanted the label maybe back in 2020 when I was experiencing grief, psychosis and transcending space-time. It felt insanely comfortable, like snuggling down into a nostalgic cloud of childhood. It was embarrassing how I acted all psychosis, but I couldn't control it. Still, I pursued an autism diagnosis and it turns out I do have a right to consider myself as such. I just don't emotionally resonate with the cushy label right now.
Autism and 'high functioning'
The outdated term 'high functioning' is somewhat offensive. It is meant to apply to someone like me, who can hold a job or conversation and pass as 'normal', whatever that means.
I still desire companionship. I can socialize successfully if I feel safe, wanted and am talking about a special interest. I can tell when someone is getting bored with me (I think). There are all sorts of ways that people have thought I wasn't autistic, but when they notice me begin to have a meltdown in public, that's the moment people realize Vela Noble is a bit odd.
My meltdowns are a warning sign to myself and others. It says, she needs a break. She needs her headphones and Susumu Hirasawa albums and to go pace for a bit. She isn't making eye contact for a reason. She's saying emotional and blunt things for a reason. It isn't being rude, it's reaching a breaking point. I didn't know this trait was meltdowns until my dear mom fed me the hunch about autism in 2017ish.
We all have aspects of being autistic, yes. People get into their hobbies, stare at their phones a lot to avoid social interactions, make social faux pas, but autism is something more.
Even with us 'high functioning' people, it involves a lifetime of suffering and strange highs, obsession with things other people may not see the value in. It's also many painful memories of social ostracization in my youth in my case, it's also bigtime getting into unsavory situations due to being a 'naïve' female. It's in how I dress and my inability to care for myself or do chores the way others do effortlessly. People that get diagnosed at age 7 and live life in a cushy bubble wont get this.
I still have my weird habits that show that I crave connection. The fact I put out a lot of videos onto Instagram of me talking, the fact I blog up a storm, my drawing is also communication, although it takes me a long time.
This leads me to say...
Human connection is a random thing in my opinion. You have to keep trying, putting out feelers to check whether anyone else wants a friend. If you're an autistic person reading this and struggling with finding connection, remember that you aren't alone. It's not so easy to say that 'all autistics get along'. I no longer feel comfortable going to a local Adelaide autistic meetup, because I was insulted by male members and driven mad by the rest of them. It's painful, but I can't find comradery there, at least, not for now.
Friendships happen in mysterious ways, NT people can get you too! I'm grateful for the few (internet)friends I have. It was my birthday the other day and well, lets say, I don't feel so young anymore, but I feel my ability to grow and make new connections is forever blossoming.
Anyways, have a happy holidays! Over and Out.