Tag Archives: autism spectrum

I admit it! I’m serious!

It all started with my post on Sheldon Cooper. I had no idea it would get the kind of attention that it has. Not so much big shares or anything but, well, if you look for Sheldon Cooper and Asperger’s I’m generally on the first page on google, so I get a constant stream of views. Apparently it is still a question people ask their search engines about. Since I haven’t closed comments, I still occasionally get comments from people, usually criticizing me in some way. As a general rule, I just leave them alone.

Some, however, have really been getting my back up. Specifically, the ones that are telling me that I’m just taking it all too seriously. So I’m just going to admit it right here – YES, I’m taking it seriously!

In regards to that post, yes it’s about a TV show and, in general, TV shows are not serious business. However, it isn’t JUST about a TV show. It’s about societal attitudes towards autism. It’s about how people talk about neurological differences, the assumptions they make, how quickly people will accept prejudice and bigotry and horribly offensive attitudes towards people on the autism spectrum.

Also, it’s about my life. Let me repeat that, MY LIFE. It’s about the world I live in and the fact that I have to navigate and try to get by while dealing with people who have absolutely no clue that it might actually be offensive to talk about Asperger’s as though we’re not really people, as though just saying “this character is on the autism spectrum” is some terrible constriction that would horribly limit the freedom of writers. People don’t get it. So I write about it. I write about my life and my beliefs and the things that impact me and YES I take it all seriously, dammit! This is not some academic exercise for me!

And while comments on that post got me started on this, it’s not just that post. Any time someone tells me that I’m taking something that impacts my life in a significant way “too seriously” I’m going to wind up ticked off. I’m not taking it too seriously when I learn that some people here in the US get less than minimum wage. Or how about things that don’t impact me directly, but do impact others who are disabled? I’m STILL upset about my post on disability and “disabled entrance in the rear” and the kinds of responses I got to the poll. I’m still upset that people said, in all sincerity, “I’m happy the small business paid money to make an entrance” which just smacks to me of saying “disabled people should be grateful they get an entrance at all, even if it does involve going into a narrow alleyway, using a service elevator, or going through the kitchen.” Just for the record – yes, all those things actually happen. You might wonder why I’m still upset about that. The post was months ago! I’m still upset because IT’S STILL A THING. The problem is not fixed, and it isn’t going to be fixed until people start to care enough to get upset about it.

Writers of TV shows are going to continue to perpetuate crappy ideas about autism and Asperger’s. News organizations are going to continue to report on us like we’re not quite human or things to be afraid of. People are going to continue to take all that in stride, because apparently it’s still ok to treat neurological differences or disability in crappy, prejudiced ways. And I’m going to keep on taking it all seriously because these things are not ok. Having a different neurology is my life. When people talk about what Asperger’s is or isn’t, they’re talking about me, and everyone else who’s an aspie. I refuse to just shrug and act like it isn’t a big deal just so that other people don’t have to think about it or feel bad about it. My life is a very big deal to me, and I will continue to take it seriously.

Maybe eventually taking disability/mental illness/neurology seriously will just be expected, instead of something people scold me about.

 

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Filed under rant

Why I don’t like social touch

Sometimes scientists like to ponder why people on the autism spectrum reject social touch. In one instance, they ran a study that did not actually involve person-to-person touch on a bunch of neurotypical people, after assessing them for autism-like traits. Apparently looking at neurotypical brains gave the scientists all sort of ideas as to what might be going on in an autistic brain. Doing a study about autistic traits without using autistic people strikes me as incredibly odd.

Now, I am not a scientist. I can’t tell you anything about what happens in my brain when people touch me. I can, however, tell you a little bit about my own subjective experiences with social touch, and how I perceive it. I have already talked some about how I have sensory issues and have to be touched in certain ways. Now I’m going to look at it from a slightly different angle.

I have actually been thinking about this topic for weeks now. I know there’s something oogy about being touched by strangers, but I was having a lot of trouble nailing it down. Well, not too long ago I wrote a short story about aspergers, and in it I included a brief comment about the main character rubbing a touch off. I didn’t even think about it very much at the time; that’s just what I have to do when someone unexpectedly touches me. Then, later, it hit me. THAT is a really big reason as to why I don’t like the sort of casual connection-building touching that other people like.

Touch is sticky!

That’s honestly the best way I have to conceptualize it. When someone touches me, that touch sticks to me. It stays there, being all weird on my skin, and I have to rub it off. Or scratch it off. Or claw it off. It varies. Everyone’s touch is sticky, there are no exceptions. So for me, being ok with someone touching me is about being ok with their touch sticking to me. Actively touching someone else is like saying “hey, I like the way your touch sticks to me.” A hug involves getting someone’s sticky on me in places I cannot easily rub it off. Not without doing that whole bear-scratching-its-back-against-a-tree-move, anyway. CLASSY. So if I actively hug you, I’m saying “your touch is going to stick to me in weird places for probably quite a while, and I’m good with that!”

If scientists want to do a study about people on the spectrum rejecting social touch, maybe they should consider having aspies and autistic people as subjects, and have the study involve actual social touch, rather than brushing that may or may not set off sensory issues. Just sayin’. Though if someone could give me a scientific explanation of the sticky thing, that would be pretty cool.

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Filed under issue, personal