I (really) try not to engage in this mindset. And for the most part, I’d like to think that I’m mostly successful at avoiding it, but I’m not perfect and I probably do slip up.
I’m not going to defend this mindset. I think it can be harmful, especially if carried too far. As much as I poke (some) fun at neurotypicals or call the “rest of the world” out on its shortcomings, I still have to exist within that world, and get along with the rest of its people the best I can.
Regardless, sometimes the sentiment does come up, like steam rising gradually. And I’ll admit that it concerns me when it does. Because it comes up and because it bothers me, I’ve gone into Contemplation Mode, trying to figure out where it comes from and why it happens. I probably can’t speak for everyone to whom this happens (so I won’t try), but I’ve reached a few conclusions and maybe I can shed some light, in hopes that it helps anyone else.
Where might such a sentiment come from? Here are a few of the possibilities I’ve considered…
We might be defending ourselves against all of the criticism we often personally endure; after years of what often ends up being the entire school class ganging up on us, pitted against us, coupled with a sometimes-complete lack of support from teachers, we become jaded. Since we know we didn’t do anything wrong, and we often tend to be “brainy” and introverted as children, we may begin to look down at other kids while we’re still kids ourselves.
We may be fighting back against the condescending and less-than-accurate diagnostic criteria that tirelessly and exclusively point out our faults (as perceived–and gravely misunderstood–by the “experts”), while they completely ignore–and fail to recognize or develop–any of our strengths.
Another reason for this “superiority” mindset might arise from a longtime and constant observation of a rat-raced world run by idiots with inverted priorities, hidden messages and agendas, endless drama, and needless complication, a world where nothing makes sense, and no one in the Herd seems to care. And yet, 24/7, we’re sent the message that we’re not good enough simply because we’re not more “like them”, topped off with the brunt of a blame for traits we can’t change (and in terms of most of those traits, we probably wouldn’t want to).
At the risk of sounding uppity, this sentiment might also be the product of a (slightly-to-greatly) higher (than average) intelligence, which I understand and admit is a sweeping generalization with many exceptions, coupled with a keen vision of common sense, logic, and a humanity-based desire to help the world with our ideas and make that world a better place….except that no one seems to listen or take us seriously.
And on a darker note, it might be a push-back against all of the thinly-veiled support for eugenics advocacy and the tolerance by the public at large of abuse or neglect of those of us with special needs. Let’s face it: we should get more than a little miffed at the persistent and prevailing desire to eliminate us and prevent our birth or force tortuous change upon us just so that they don’t have to change so much to accommodate us.
We get pushed aside a lot, at best. At worst, episodes of popular TV talk shows have highlighted some ghastly stories of mistreatment or even murder of autistic children, only to be met with–not “how could you??” but a nonchalant or mildly-supportive “yeah, I can see why [the abuser/murderer] did that”, or worse: “I would’ve done the same thing”. I’ve included an example of this, complete with copy-pasted quotes of comments from the message board below, between the horizontal lines.
If you don’t read between the lines (further below, past the picture at the end of the body of the post), I won’t blame you. But if you do, you’ll have (probably more) of an idea of what we’re up against. (And if you’re Aspie/autistic, you’re already all-too-well aware.)
Growing up and living in such a world where people are allowed to make–and even receive support after making–the statements between the lines below, is pretty rough. There’s a definite anti-spectrum sentiment in the world; it’s perfectly OK to threaten or bring harm to someone with special needs or neurodivergence if that special needs/neurodivergent person poses an Inconvenience to the rest of the Herd. We constantly feel this sentiment subconsciously; many of us also feel it consciously, with varying frequency and intensity.
So, I can understand why some of us may feel a hostility-in-return toward the Herd. After all, that’s a lot of hate to withstand on a daily basis, from people to whom most of us have done nothing wrong.
(This concludes the body of the post; the rest of this post, beginning after the picture below, consists of the excerpts from a message board I mentioned above, regarding pathological ableism, illustrated by an example of attempted harm of a teenager on the spectrum featured on a TV talk show, so if you’re not up to reading it, I totally understand–I’m issuing a Potential Trigger Alert on the account of severe ableism–and if you like, you can safely back out now.)
BEGIN Potential Trigger Alert (severe ableism) between the lines:
A case in point, and probably among the severest examples of this type of ableism against which we often feel we have to defend ourselves, can be illustrated on one episode of the Dr. Phil show, a show of which I’ve admittedly otherwise watched and learned a lot.
On September 15, 2014, he featured a woman (Kelli Stapleton) who had attempted to kill herself and her 14-year-old autistic daughter (Issy). Of course, she didn’t see it as an attempted murder-suicide; rather, they “were going to heaven together”. (Tell that to the jury.)
And afterward, on Dr. Phil’s website’s message board, the comments rolled in… (I shuddered at the blatant ableism but kept staring at the screen, as if I were a gawker on the road, rubbernecking past a bad car wreck); all emphasis is mine, but after copy-pasting, I left all comments as-is, with no further editing, and occasionally interspersed a few replies of my own…
“I know there are lots of great fathers of autistic children. Do you know what their greatest job is?? It is supporting the mother who has to deal with the child on an everyday basis.”
” I just watched this show in Australia with my daughter who has an autistic daughter, four years old. We were very concerned for the mother as I think she got a raw deal with the law….Unless you are in an autistic family you cant really understand…That poor Mother has been physically abused for 16 years by her daughter…Absolutely ridiculous sentence of ten years. In Australia she would have gotten out due to diminished responsibility. Also where were the grandparents?. To the people who say there was absolutelly no reason for the woman to do what she did, It shows a lack of insight into the issue of autism. Obvioulsy they have never had to live with the relentless nightmare that it is.”
Interesting how nobody’s concerned for the child whose mother attempted to take her life and all. And I highly doubt that the daughter spent her entire life abusing her mother. An infant can’t exactly take a swing at an adult. Even a toddler can be contained gently.
“This poor woman had a partner and I cannot understand why he had no responsibility in suporting her with relief…He should be telling himself that his daughter caused his wife to be ill. and abandining his wif is not right no matter what she did in her mental state. I don’t condone killing your children if you are sane, but this is temporary insanity if I ever saw it. An illness!”
Illiteracy aside, this woman is not “poor”; the daughter is. The daughter didn’t cause the wife to be ill. The woman was probably already (at least physically and perhaps even mentally) ill before she got pregnant. And then who knows how chaotic the household was, or how stress-inducing (on the child) the mother’s parenting style was? If the daughter had so many issues by such a young age, especially ones that never went away, I have no choice but to place the parents (physical or psychological health) under scrutiny.
“my heart goes out to the mother”
And again, nothing about the daughter, who was very obviously suffering, even if the exact nature of suffering was unknown.
” I bet I would do the same. I would drive the van down a high bridge, though, just to make sure it’s over with for good. … No civil society can leave families alone with these problems and let them deal with it all on their own.”
Lock this one up–now! She’s a psychotic ticking time-bomb, with violent tendencies and tendencies toward premeditation. She certainly has a funny definition and twisted concept of what makes up a “civil society”; I don’t think that a “civil society” includes trying to kill your children, nor sympathizing with those who would.
“I’m so fortunate to have two healthy children. I have never dealt with Autism but I am watching this and there are so many things running through my head. The main thing, and I know this sounds awful, is, “What if the family members being abused by these Autistic children fought back?” I know how terrible that sounds but if you went toe to toe with them and gave them a taste of what they do what would happen? Clearly I do not have the patience these women have. They are saints. Absolute saints.”
Lock this one up, too. Because what happens if one or both of those “two healthy children” suffers an accident that leaves them brain-damaged (of which some of the symptoms include mood changes, angry outbursts, lashing out, or learning disabilities)? It’s only a matter of time for this “mom”, too, before her own presently-“healthy” kids are put at serious risk. And sainthood for this would-be murderer of a mother? Yeah, call the Pope and have her nominated; I don’t think you’d get very far, lady.
And then there was a voice of reason, although I can’t support the analogy of an autistic human being to another type of animal:
“You poke a bear you get bit… You continue to poke it you get attacked… You continue to poke it behnd closed doors, it attacks you on sight as a defense…. Then we put the bear down because it’s aggressive and call you a victim.”
OK, that’s enough. I’ve made my point.
END Potential Trigger Alert.
(Image Credit: Dragan Petrovic Pavle)