‘Minds Without Borders’ by Margo Comeau on WrongPlanet

The lovely Margo Comeau, a friend and fellow autistic person, contacted me on Facebook, asking me if I would share this, a piece she has written as a post on The Wrong Planet.  I’m embarrassed to say that I only saw this this morning, while the message was sent 11 days ago.  Needless to say, the minute I saw it, I jumped on it.  It’s so beautiful; I’m incredibly honored to share it here!  Thank you, Margo, for contacting me and giving me the honor of asking me to publish this.  Her essay begins below…  🙂 ❤


Autistic behavior is a form of communication.  I’m about to take that statement further and show you the significance behind autistic behavior.

For me, autism means that my mind is a vast open space where all my knowledge runs free with my hyper-connected brain.  Most people are born with instructions to function on this planet – not me.  I can’t think within parameters that I can’t see.  It is like being asked to think outside of a box you didn’t know you were inside of.  Free-range thinking translates into free-range behavior.

Not seeing borders can manifest itself in difficulties understanding boundaries, and this has been prominent throughout my life beginning at an early age.  For instance, I never knew how far to stand from people.  To cope, I would stand a little farther away than what I thought was acceptable just to be sure.  But not all coping mechanisms and assumed boundaries are perfect – my method failed me once when I was in kindergarten.  All of my classmates were sitting in a circle and I happened to be right next to my teacher, who was on a chair reading a book to our class.  The top of her foot distracted me; it was flesh-colored, but it appeared to have a textured pattern.  I figured she was wearing stockings.  I lost my restraint while in some sort of trance and impulsively – but gently – pulled on the top of her foot.  It was like my brain had to find out for itself whether my assumption was correct about the stockings.  My teacher flinched.  She didn’t seem upset, but she was surprised.

My fourth grade teacher was always frustrated that I would never write my assignments within the margins.  My print handwriting would spill over the borders of the paper, and my calligraphy was minuscule because I thought it was the only way that I could perfectly align the size and spacing.

My mind’s boundaries followed me outside of school too.  One day, I was filing out a form one day and the woman working at the front of the office seemed puzzled.  She commented, “You’re the first person ever to start filling out the form at the bottom and working your way up.  Why did you do it that way?”  I explained that I wanted to get the meatier parts out of the way first so that towards the end of filling out the sheet, my mind can rest as the name/address/date of birth part is a no-brainer.

In grade 11, I did a coop placement at a parliament member’s office: the Hill location and the constituency office.  I enjoyed it immensely.  I learned so much to the point that I realized I didn’t know anything at all.  I had chosen the most progressive and liberal politician I knew.  Still, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought of restricting myself to one idea.  A political party is a way of thinking, yet there are 7 billion ways of thinking.  On my last day,I asked the parliament member for one piece of advice which has stuck with me to this day, “Don’t get into politics just to get into politics.  Do it because there’s a particular cause you truly believe in and follow it.”

I didn’t know who I was back then. I didn’t know what I was passionate about.  I do now, but I still can’t reconcile the thought of belonging to a dividing entity.

But something I learned is that there is always a side: us against them.  Rarely is there impartiality.  I couldn’t understand that you had to take a side to stand for something.

I did learn what I was passionate about after my time in the co-op: poetry.  There is a reflection of nature in all human experience and this is my inspiration for metaphors.  I see the synchronicity in everything.  Nature is cruel.  We are animals that don’t follow the natural order of the environment because we coexist.  Autistic children often report other children as being mean.  It didn’t occur to me until I grew up that meanness is really just what animals do to one another to survive.  My “niceness” was a lack of survival instinct.  As we mature, we learn to develop our intellect and compassion.  Lions and lambs don’t live peacefully together in the wild.  My curiosity for human relationships lead me to my next big passion in life: spirituality.  What is it exactly that sets us apart from our non-human counterparts?

Every behavioral manifestation of an autistic trait reveals something deeper about how we perceive the world.  The reason autistics need order and routine is because their minds are chaotic and unusual.  Lack of awareness for boundaries also means they don’t see borders between people.  They don’t see faces, color, or race – only character.  I never saw others as “other.”  This is why autistics are known to befriend people of all ethnicities, religion, and age.  The older I got, the more I realized that people categorized others to determine whether or not to accept or reject them.

In my mind, I developed artificially constructed dividers to classify people, which helps me predict how certain people will act based on past experiences.

This last line made me cry when I wrote it.  I’ve literally had to teach myself to divide people in my mind to survive.  It feels like I have built a fence in my mind, but my thoughts and feelings rebelled and grew in between each metal wiring hiding any evidence of it.  Our future can’t be kept locked up behind archaic traditions, cultural norms, or even widely-accepted beliefs and opinions.  With limits, our vision cannot be world-embracing.  Without limits, our vision is one of freedom.  Minds without borders will help create a world without borders.


Related Links:

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Image Credit: Josephine Wall.

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16 Comments

  1. This is really amazing, It explains so well what it means to experience world through the eyes of an autistic person. I follow your blog and more and more understand, I think so at least 🙂. The post of your friend gives so many examples that I start to “get it”😄 thanks to both of you! Anyhow I always thought that autism, Asperger and some other forms of being in our society appeared to crash the standards and habits of too conventional minds. I’m quite spiritual person and I believe we need more and more to rise beyond the limits of the mind or at least to open our minds

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much! Absolutely agreed 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I think, too, that we’re all here to add a little diversity and shake things up a little 😉. Of course, that’s not anybody’s *only* purpose! But it’s a cool side effect lol 😂😉. I’m with you all the way – a fellow spiritual person in favor of bending (the world) and transcending (the limits) 💞

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so wonderful how you are sharing your life with us. We are learning so much about what its like to have your condition and how you experience life. You see life in many wonderful ways that one without this condition misses out on yet there is the difficulties of how you see life that must cause difficulties. Thank you for sharing your journey with all its accomplishments and defeats for us to benefit from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very kindly for your lovely comment! So happy that you’re learning, and enjoying the process 😊🌺💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. TRIGGER ALLERT: Please do not read the following if you are uncomfortable with the display of conflicting opinions.

    Hi SW,
    I’ve read several times the post, and I must say it left me rather confused, so with all due respect, I must express my confusion as follows:

    Statement 1.”The reason autistics need order and routine is because their minds are chaotic and unusual.”
    Reply 1 – May I be excused? Where does this generalising statement come from? That autistic minds are ‘unusual’, might be true, but they are’ unusual’ only for those with a generalising perspective of what ‘usual’ should be, thinking therefore that whosoever doesn’t fit their perspective automatically becomes non/un/usual.
    But that autistic minds are “chaotic” might be an assumption highly disturbing for some autistics, and even more highly unscientific and inaccurate, because chapters of volumes have been written about the neurobiological necessity of autistic brains to systemise, which in itself is the opposite of chaotic. Again we may be perceived as ‘chaotic’ only by individuals whom may use allocated parts of their brains for specific sensory computations, instead of constantly using their entire brain even for seemingly trivial perceptions such as hearing and smelling, which is mostly unconscious for most neurotypicals, but because of constant detail overload, painfully conscious for many neurodivergents.
    2″”Boundaries also means they don’t see borders between people. They don’t see faces, color, or race – only character.  I never saw others as “other.””
    Reply 2 – As catchy and uplifting this might sound, I don’t really understand neither the meaning, nor its substance…
    Again the ‘they’ and ‘I’ are substituted for each other, in a context which may not be automatically agreed upon by all NDs. Am I the only one guilty of seing the entire world as ‘me’ and ‘them’, or ‘me’ and ‘the others’? Autism has gained its very definition and name from the concept of “self”, and that in a peculiarly ‘exacerbated’ form, which leaves most autistics clearly delimitating themselves from the entire world, with one, nevertheless clear boundary in between. Yes, I might not see borders between people, but those people are all across the divide of my boundary. As for character, let me think, hmmm… Oh yes, the ‘character(s)’ which left me belittled, beaten, bullied, cheated, extorted, etc, until I had to learn all those subtle non-face-reading details which switch on my alarm red-light after a lengthy 15-30 seconds of ‘small talk’. I am emotionally passive and also blind, but I have become a master in true character reading, which didn’t at al convince me to ever cross my safe divide anymore…
    3.”This is why autistics are known to befriend people of all ethnicities, religion, and age.”
    Reply 3 – Again, since when the generalising “autistics are known to befriend…”? Because last time I tried to ‘befriend’ anyone, it left me with a broken marriage, a broken and confused life, to name the publicistically tolerable topics only… I wanted to ‘befriend’ people because I thought that’s what normal people do. Well, I understood rather slowly what ‘normal’ is, and also that it ain’t me. Miraculously, the day I understood the divide, the ‘me’ and ‘them’, that for example 5 is actually 1+1+1+1+1, or 1+(1+1+1+1) or anything else but 5 when I’m in the summarising attempt, ‘the truth set me free’ indeed…
    Now, I do understand that NDs too, have their own opinions about how this (foreign/wrong) planet could be better re-designed should the task be given to them, but I would respectfully ask them to leave ME out of a world without borders, which would ultimately encourage anyone to invade the privacy within the comfortable limits of MY side, of MY divide. Anyone is welcome to stay out of my yard, respect my fences, knock on my door before coming in, and come in only if I responded, positively. Otherwise, please leave a note and wait… I may not at all desire to be part of any “our vision”, as I do have MY vision. I do not want the ‘freedom’ which comes with the co-participation to anyone else’s commune, generalising ‘vision’. There’s no freedom beyond individual freedom.
    Limitless and/or unlimited isn’t at all borderless. Not at all, not from any angle ar perspective.
    Borders mean the clarity between oceans and dry land. Borderless is what tsunamis leave behind on dry land, without ever having asked the dry land if it would be OK to move the borders…
    Limitless is when I build my ship on dry land aware of what the ocean’s conditions are, and expand my personal vision on a mutually beneficial and respectful way.
    A world without borders? No way…
    How about a world of mutual respect across clear borders?
    “If you’ve met and autistic person, you’ve met ONE autistic person”!
    Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! You make very valid points 😊. I can’t speak for Margo, so I’ll try to see if she’s able to weigh in here, in her own words. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If there ever was an aspect of my thought process which I might wanted to trade for something else, it was the “there’s a problem” aspect, which left me oftentimes -emotionally- bruised…
        I appreciate your openness in accepting the uniqueness of someone else’s thoughts, even if those might be on an opposite side.
        But I guess, that’s what the Liberty of Thinking entitles us to 😉
        Thank you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I know just what you mean, at least, through my own lens 😊. My “AOS” definitely came with the “There’s a Problem” “app”, too 😉. And yep, I can identify with the emotional bruising part, too 💞. This might look like diplomatic fence-sitting BS, but I promise it’s not: I can see both sides (!) 💖. Seriously, I can. I can identify with both. My brain has always had this strange dual nature, of yin and yang striving for balance and harmony lol. Never much one for extremes (not that I’m implying that either of you are, of course!); I just find that multiple, even opposing, viewpoints seem to resonate with me simultaneously lol 😉🌺

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Wholeheartedly agree that if you’ve met one Aspie/autistic person, you’ve met one Aspie/autistic person 😊. I *like* the fact that we’re all so different and that we perceive life and the world in such a huge variety of ways, using a huge variety of images and words. It adds color to life! 😉💖

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Margo
    You can see people without the need to divide them – I do just that.
    I identify as NT, but also as agendered (which basically means I don’t see myself as the biological female I also am). And that’s how i see others as well – as people first and foremost.
    And if that’s how you see people, and it sounds like you did, then go back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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