Whenever I tell someone I’m autistic, I often get one of three responses that are a bit offputting. They either ignore what I just said, completely change the subject (same thing in my book), or they say something like, “But you don’t seem autistic!” Each of these responses is a bit unnerving, the first two because I’m really, really not good at pretending something didn’t just happen, and the second because I’m not sure what I’m then supposed to say or do.
I’m not sure what the neurotypical world knows about autism. I tend to assume they don’t know much. And, I don’t know how NTs perceive our behavior. I can only tell that my behavior is innappropriate because I get the Oh, brother look.
Roll of the eyes here, sigh of disgust there — you get the picture that you’re not acceptable after years of this kind of treatment. And it’s rare that I actually know this right away. NTs have the benefit of virtual instant behavior modification when it comes to social interaction. They can read each others’ expressions and body language and adjust — like magic!
Me? I can only fairly often tell something happened due to having lived so long, but I most often have no idea what happened, and it isn’t until later when I get a chance to be alone and unravel the interaction that I might figure out what horrendous social faux pas I’ve committed. In this way, I live my life one embarrassment to the next. I’ll admit the humiliation stings, but I’ve learned to have a sense of humor about it. I laugh at myself at least once a day. That’s because I do things that are so damn funny.
What I may not know, though, is that when NTs say things like, “Oh, you don’t seem like it,” or completely ignore what I’ve just said, maybe that’s their way of signaling that letting them know I’m autistic isn’t considered good manners. What they may not know is that blurting is my specialty.
So, if there is a color for autism, color me confused.