Autism is my code-key

Growing up, I heard the word “weird” frequently.  So frequently, in fact, that I used its finger to point at myself.  Get myself before they get me.  If I beat them to the heckling, then I would be immune, right?

“Weird” was one of the only descriptors, in my defense.  At least, it was the simplest one.  Common in everyday vernacular, learned at an early age, easy to remember, a single syllable.  It left much to the imagination.  Different people conjure up different images in response to hearing it.  And, it’s an all-encompassing umbrella term.

But there’s more to the story, of course.  (Isn’t there always?)

On the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, the divide between the Seen and the Unseen is greater than that for most.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, although it can cause misunderstandings.  “She can’t be autistic!”, goes the classic example.  “She’s too [X]” or “she’s not [Y] enough”.

Bother.

That’s the Seen vs Unseen Divide at work.  I’d say we’ve all seen it, but knowing my luck, there’ll be an outlier who hasn’t, so I’ll refrain.  ๐Ÿ˜‰

What you see: the breathlessly whispered “hi”s while briskly passing strangers on the stairs and pasting on a smile.  (Damn, I’m a good actress.)

What you don’t see: the internal (and sometimes external) sigh of relief when I’m finished encountering people.  The mask, what’s left of it, gets kicked off and tossed aside like the uncomfortable shoes you’d wear only to someone’s wedding.

What you see: the strange comment, the moment of overshare, the one whose eyes dart away while trying to string words together in syntax-ical ways.

What you don’t see: the tightrope walk involved in trying to play this human dance and these human games during which we sniff each other’s behinds.  The breaking down of the social interaction unit into infinitesimal parts.

What you see is the careful and deliberate choice of food and a seeming unwillingness to try anything outside of the comfort zone.

What you don’t see is the overactive nerve endings in hyperactive tastebuds that preclude me from eating much else.

What you see is the mysterious disappearances from the apartment just before dinner time.

What you don’t see is the internal, flinch-inducing shockwave that involuntarily results from each bang of a cupboard door or crash of dishes in the sink or metal-on-metal of the spatula against the frying pan during cooking, that necessitate my escape.

What you see is the socially awkward stammer, the real-time revision of spoken words, the need to cover every detail, connect every dot.

What you don’t see is the Internal Critic tirelessly looking over my shoulder, scrutinizing my every word and movement.

Sometimes, what you see is a flat, blunt statement.  A lack of social graces, a failed verbal filter.  I don’t always have one.  My ability to filter and refine my words before they leave my lips is directly proportional to the amount of energy I have, which runs thinner the more my anxiety ramps up.

At times like these, my raw, unadulterated thoughts stream through from my brain and out of my mouth like a sieve.  People recoil in response.  Not in horror, but simply because people just don’t say things like that.  Hell, they may not even admit that they think or feel them–not even to themselves.

It took me a long time to see for myself the reality of the divide between what was happening inside and what I projected to the world.  What I faced from others served as a bundle of signals that told me that my instincts and my natural way of being were somehow wrong.  I had no way of expressing or explaining myself, no appeals process through which to plead my case and petition for a stay of execution.

No, really–that’s what it felt like sometimes.

Imagine, then, the day on which I found a single word (well, OK–two words) that explained everything.

And I mean everything.

No longer am I being “picky”, “difficult”, or “hypersensitive” by my own volition.  I had vocabulary that had already been established by someone else, because it had happened to someone else.  Many someone elses, in fact.  “Sensory sensitivity/overload” is a Thing.

I now know that it’s OK to escape an overwhelming environment.  I have confirmation that the world operates on a different frequency than I do.  My need for routine has been justified, and I can politely ignore those who urge me to “get out more” and “make new friends”, because I know now that my craving for solitude is real, and it serves a constructive purpose.

I knew all of this before; I just hadn’t known that I was correct.  I had no clue how correct I was.  My instincts were screaming at me, and even though society told me to ignore them because what was “healthy” for most went against what I craved for myself, there’s a part of me that continued to listen and nonchalantly pursue that which I needed.

There comes a point in time when it can be good to stop caring (as much) about what other people think.  That part was difficult for me, because it ran counter to what I was told was the Acceptable Way.  I knew that a failure to conform was, possibly, to invite more criticism.  What the hell–do it anyway.

Life, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

The moment I woke up to my true nature and reached out to accept it with both arms, the world began to wake up around me, with me, slowly beginning to embrace the fact that Autism Is Not a Bad Thing.

Slowly but surely.  I’m carving my place in the world.  Because there’s room for us all and dammit, I belong here, too.  ๐Ÿ™‚

***

This is one of my more popular posts!

โค

โค

โค

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158 Comments

    1. Oh damn, I’m so sorry you got subjected to that! ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’ž. Weird & Proud is much better! I’ve grown to love the term “weird”, personally; it’s taken on a more positive connotation, although I don’t know if that’s a societal thing or more of an internal “me” thing learning to see it differently ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿ’Ÿ

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I used to get offended, hurt or upset when people would say “She’s crazy”, after actually looking up the definition of crazy in the urban dictionary though, I have decided they are right and I’m ok with it. I am my own person. I treat people the way that I want to be treated ( honestly and i get to the point) some people call that filterless….smh… and I try not to judge people because everyone is going through something…so if that makes me weird, crazy or different…so be it ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. I like that approach! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the word “crazy” gets misused a lot. I think there might be a couple meanings. Urban Dictionary is one of my favorites ๐Ÿ˜‰ It sounds like you reclaimed the word in a way, and made it work for you instead of against you. You called the shots; I admire that. Above all, we’ve got to be comfortable with who we are, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

          Like

  1. Super post. I had all sorts of abuse thrown at me while I was growing up, largely based on my “weirdness”. One of the many good things to come from my diagnosis (at age 31) is that knowing what it was that made me “different” helped me to not care how the rest of the world saw me – for 11 years I have been able to unashamedly be the person I actually am.

    Liked by 6 people

          1. It helps to have no life ๐Ÿ˜‰ But seriously, I just make time for it, and I also set a goal to git ‘er done in 20 minutes or less. That forces me to focus, which also pumps me up. And I typically blog first thing in the morning, so I’m fresh. I’ve been writing daily for decades, which helps, too. That daily discipline pays off big-time.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Oh my stars!! You do this in 20 minutes or less?? ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜‰. Rock the heck on, girl!! Holy cow it takes me an hour or more to write each post lol. Some posts have taken up to 5 hours ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’“

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Well, that’s the goal, but I don’t always make it. I’m very short on time when I’m writing, but I have lots of time to think about things while I’m driving to/from work. I have to piece it all together, bit by bit. Sometimes I run over my time limit and end up writing for 30+ minutes, but I’m usually running late by that time, so I have to keep my sh*t together. Like I said, doing this daily for decades makes a big difference. I don’t always post each day, but I do write *something*.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww!! Wow, that’s too amazing ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’ž. Seriously, that’s very touching to hear, luv! When I first realized that I’m autistic/an Aspie, I read other people’s blog posts and tears fell, so many times! Tears of healing ๐Ÿ’“. I was so thankful, that I started this blog as a way of trying to pay it forward ๐ŸŒท. I hope that the healing aspect is/was the case for you, too! ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, definitely tears of healing. And of feeling not alone. And you expressed so well that feeling of I thought I was too sensitive or picky or any other “too” negative label. It feels so good to think of myself in a way other than all that negative stuff. There’s a reason I am the way I am and other people feel the same way. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicole comes home and says to me “I’m so weird…and annoying, why am I like that mom?” She blurts out WHATEVER is on her mind and is sitting downstairs with a bird in a cage(because she needs someone to love her) and on her phone watching youtube videos because she is more comfortable in solitude……
    I tell her it does not matter what anyone thinks of her, to just be herself. But at 12 everything is dependent on your peers.
    What is a chill mom to do but hug her when the going gets rough.
    Great post!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re absolutely right! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I like you ๐Ÿ˜Šโค๏ธ. You’re one of the awesome moms ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. Oh yeah, 12 is a tough, tough age! I shudder just by remembering what it was like, and I’m 40 (!) โฃ. Your daughter sounds simply amazing ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Itโ€™s tough being weird and itโ€™s tough being twelve. What I would like to say to her is that being weird is not always bad. It means youโ€™re not average, not boring. As for annoying: you are not annoying, others only find you so because they are too narrow minded to take you as you are. But yeah, at that age itโ€™s about fitting in and not standing out, so maybe a hug is all there is.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. dont forget that the day that most people stop arguing with us about who we are “oh, youre not autistic– its not loud– youre not… [50 things covered in other posts youve done, in list form of things that people say because they think they know us better than we do]”

    then there will be a million more places for us, and we wont have to spend QUITE SO MUCH time escaping. but until that day, they can be happy pretending they know, because of some idiotic thing they saw on tv, or (thanks you silly *****) some idiotic thing rosie o’idiot donnell said. (id like to zap her with an autism ray so she could suffer right along with the rest.) “i had NO IDEA!” yeah– no ****ing sh** ya didnt… but dont feel too bad, its too horribly common. you can put your comfortable shoes on for me, no worries. i will only take it personally 1/50 as often as normals. โค

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Amen, brother! Yes, the constant dismissal is irksome!! It’s like how the F do you know?! Lol ๐Ÿ˜‰. I’d like to work toward a world like you described ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you luv! I appreciate your caring words so much ๐Ÿ˜˜. Amen to that, my lovely! As long as I’m not affecting anyone else, there’s no other way for me to do it except my own, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 3 people

  4. The words I would use to describe you would be
    Adorable
    Amazeballs
    Awesomesauce
    Beautiful
    Interesting
    Loving
    Caring
    Sensitive
    Talented
    Friend!

    I am happy we met, and you’re one of my favorite people. Thank you for writing this. I’m positive you’re helping lots of people.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Hehe I *know* you’re serious ๐Ÿ˜Š, which is why I’m so touched ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—. You’re an absolute gem, and I’m excited and honored to be friends with you ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒบ

          Like

  5. Wonderful statement, Laina! Seems in these times we all have to wear masks and have to interact in the game/ the theatre as well as possible. Look at the refugees. These are mostly poor people, and their culture gave him her religion. Now we should have problems with muslims. Why should we have? There are only some crazy criminal people using religionis for their goals. Why should we hate another, and fight against ourselves? Have a good weekend. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love love love this post. Yes to everything! ๐Ÿ‘
    Although, one of the chapters in my big book of โ€œWhy I canโ€™t be autisticโ€ is headed โ€œI didnโ€™t get called weird nearly often enoughโ€. I can count on one hand the instances I can remember when someone called me weird. People might have said it behind my back, but I wouldnโ€™t know. There must have been something about me, though, otherwise why the spontaneous expressions of disgust from the neighbourhood kids when I appeared on the scene?
    But yeah, all the things in your post apply to me. People see the smile, but they donโ€™t know how I have to steel myself for the onslaught of small talk.
    Iโ€™m also still trying to persuade myself that the things I want are not the wrong things but the right things for me. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “…the spontaneous expressions of disgust from the neighbourhood kids when I appeared on the scene…”

      Oh my gosh, you too?? ๐Ÿ’ž. This happened to me, too. I never understood why. It didn’t seem to happen to anyone else, so I knew it had something to do with me, but couldn’t figure out what I had done to make them act that way toward me. I’m so sorry that happened to you, too! It’s an experience that should never happen to anyone. But of course, it does. It’s just the nature of the world, I guess. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, luv; everything in your comment applies to me as well! I encourage the idea that what you want is *not* wrong, but the right things for you, and that that’s perfectly OK ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’Ÿ

      Liked by 2 people

  7. My initial thoughts and reaction to this post is that those with autism/Aspergers are just like all other people with their own unique qualities – just like all other people. What you describe about yourself could also describe me – who has never been diagnosed with autism – just on a different level. These are all human qualities and the degree of those qualities is what makes us individuals. Not “weird” or “sick” or anything us – just people!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. “What you donโ€™t see is the internal, flinch-inducing shockwave that involuntarily results from each bang of a cupboard door or crash of dishes in the sink or metal-on-metal of the spatula against the frying pan during cooking, that necessitate my escape.”

    Ooh I’ve been trying to describe this sensation, and shockwave fits well. It hurts!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It does indeed! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜˜โค๏ธ. It actually took me a while to realize this for myself. I didn’t really notice its effect on me until recent years. And now I can’t get away from it! My partner has become more attuned and conscious, so he’s often more careful, but there are also (still) plenty of times in which he either forgets or doesn’t realize how much a particular noise affects me. I might have to have a gentle Reminder Talk ๐Ÿ˜‰. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! ๐Ÿ˜˜๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒท

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I usually put away the dishes, and it’s so hard to not make noise. I need to put in earplugs just do it without irritation. ha I didn’t notice either until this year since I started paying attention to how things affect me. :\ Thanks for posting. ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooooh! I hadn’t even thought of that! ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‰. That’s a superb idea ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I do believe I’ll try that! Thank you so much for your comment ๐Ÿ˜โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ

          Liked by 2 people

  9. I call myself weird a lot too. And freak. It doesn’t help that I don’t really have anything to label myself. My only actual diagnosis is severe depression. The social anxiety, OCD and Asperger’s are just my guesses. Actually, as I’ve said on my blog, I’ve twice been told that I DON’T have Asperger’s in psychological assessments, but the the psychiatrist who saw me the longest and the therapist who is still seeing me both think that I am on the spectrum, even if at a subdiagnostic point. Confusing.

    Lately I’ve been trying not to care about labels and just to accept who I am, but it’s hard. I guess because growing up I felt that I needed an excuse to get out of things like parties that set off my social anxiety and Asperger’s. Now my family at least are more supportive, but I still feel I want a label so I can know that I’m not malingering and that I’m trying my best. Would a label really convince me that I’m doing my best, though? Probably not. And I doubt I would play the autistic card at work, I just struggle on to do my best in the autistic-unfriendly, social anxiety-unfriendly parts of the job.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hear you, my friend ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. In all of this! My self-assessment and subsequent formal diagnosis helped me in a lot of ways, and yet there is a downside, even if it’s a small one. It’s possible that I might let myself off the hook too often; even if I don’t now, there’s the possibility that I might start someday. I’m just postulating, nothing concrete, but it’s something I may have to watch out for ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ

      Liked by 2 people

  10. My darling Laina, WEIRD is cool – “normal” can be a big yawn. The Girl (Luisa) has a GREAT line at the end of her monologue from The Fantasticks — “Please god, please, don’t let me be normal!”

    I tell all of my clients, “NORMAL is not the goal – extraordinary is the goal. And extraordinary people are *never* normal.”

    I’m sorry for everyone who has been beaten bloody by the “normal” stick – but I’m sure it’s only because those normal folk are jealous – lol. Fly your “freak-flag” proudly! Yeah, it can come with a few challenges, but not NEARLY as many as being normal. ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    "It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hell yeah! You rock, Madelyn ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒบ. You’re right on! ๐Ÿ˜Ž. I’ve come to appreciate the word “freak”, too! I almost feel like I am/we are taking certain words back and rebranding them as something more positive (and accurate!). Taking the slurs away from their hurlers ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I prefer being a weird freak myself! Pretty liberating โœจ๐Ÿ’–โœจ

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fascinated with words since I was tiny (especially the multisyllabic), I fell in love with “eccentric” in pre-school. When grown-ups asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I told them, “an odd eccentric” ๐Ÿ™‚

        I’m almost there! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒบ
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Ooooh I love the word “eccentric” too!! And “eclectic” as well. Sounds very elegant. Multisyllabic words rule!! I could never speak simply, especially when I was little. I lived up to Hans Asperger’s “little professor” observation lol ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜Šโค๏ธ

          Liked by 2 people

  11. You organize your thoughts and express yourself so beautifully. I imagine how difficult this must be, and how confusing for many children.

    I look forward to reading more about how you face your challenges.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I like the word weird, and I own it, I know I’m weird. Just happen to be aspie too ;). But I’m also embracing the very real differences I have, and making adjustments for them without shame or self retribution (like both of us walking out the restaurant last night before ordering, because it was so busy and noisy, a baby screeching, ridiculously bad service…..we both knew it would wind us both up to stay). I won’t apologise for myself any more. Not for this, I’m hard enough on myself for other stuff as it is.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Way to go!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผโค๏ธโค๏ธ. Yes, this! ๐Ÿ˜. You totally *shouldn’t* have to apologize for yourself (although sometimes the “social rules” sometimes try to hint that we should), and I’m glad you’re not ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Its origins mean ‘destiny’ or โ€˜having the power to control destinyโ€™….so not such a bad thing at all; not sure believe in the concepts in my ultra rational mind, but hey, I’ll run with it this time.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. had a thought– if you wanted to go to #ndland sometime and bring a few friends, that would certainly be an interesting group.

    i recommend mibbit over freenode, as mibbit is a little less likely to turn into a twitter-like situation, if you know what i mean. freenode can be very civil, but if you set it up on mibbit i believe everyone will be more likely to be left alone and less likely to be trolled without your active intervention.

    id recommend posting the mibbit url so that everyone finds themselves on the same network (ircnet)– doing this on a regular basis would possibly/likely lead to the chat being active even when youre not there. could be fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Omg that would be awesome! ๐Ÿ˜. I can think of at least one, maybe 2. 3? Hmmm… Yeah it’d be an interesting combo lol ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜˜โค๏ธโค๏ธ. What a cool idea! I love the concept of a trollitude-free atmo ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—

      Liked by 2 people

    1. ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜. Me too! โค๏ธโค๏ธ. It has definitely diminished over the past few years, taking a total nosedive this spring-summer ๐Ÿ’–. You are more beautiful at your true core anyway! ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Finding out the difference between the outside and inside is the key for me too. I’m a High Sensitive Person so I can relate so much to what your writing about inside and outside perspective. When I found out the HSP thing with me I got better in handling the outside world by being careful about my inside time. Thanks for a great post ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! ๐Ÿ˜˜. Thank you so much for writing in ๐Ÿ’–. I admit I don’t know much officially about HSP, but I think I have a pretty good idea what it’s about (and I wouldn’t doubt that it might be one more thing that probably applies to me, but I never knew it was a Thing, so I’d never thought about it before) ๐Ÿ’œ. Thank you bunches for sharing your thoughts! I think I learned of something extra-valuable today! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’š

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome. I didn’t know about HSP until a couple of years ago. It’s a very interesting subject and that answered many questions for me. Elaine N Aron wrote a book about HSP that was very interesting to read.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. A million thanks for writing; also for reading & following “manologo”! Now I read you and enjoy each post. It takes time to me to read, but as we say in espaรฑol: ยกVale la pena”! Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mi inglรฉs es del colegio…. Y ahora tengo 70 aรฑos. Debe estar medio oxidado…
        ยกQuรฉ bueno que aprendas espaรฑol!, es un poco mรกs “musical” en su sonido que el inglรฉs o cualquier lengua de origen sajรณn. ยกAbrazo! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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