“Aspie” Rant: Integrity within Autistic Groups and Networks

The original start of the title was Master Mind Fu** . . . Which still works.

damages

I abide by the philosophy of take what you need and leave the rest behind. I was taught manners and live by the golden rule of treat others how I wish to be treated. I take pride in my ability to steadfastly stand the high ground. Never have I used my influences to discount another person’s actions or works: regardless of the temptation. Never have I called out an agency or organization in a public blog post. Never have I chosen sides in the eyes of many. Some might see my acts as weakness. As people pleasing. As avoiding conflict. That’s fine. I truthfully don’t care. I know myself. And that is what matters. But I challenge anyone to live like I do for a year. To not lower yourself. To not turn one wrong into two.

It takes little to no effort to act based on a reaction. That’s how we live each second.

It takes huge reserves of strength to stop from reacting in extremes, when we believe we’ve been wronged. It takes character and self-control not to buy into gossip and not follow suit in action, with someone who is degrading and belittling you. How good it feels to shout: Fuck YOU!

I am a very strong woman. I have no doubts about that. And indeed I get angry. I feel outrage.  But online, with other sensitive and/or ticking-bomb autistics, instead of acting on anger, I let the anger move through me, and then release. I use my sparks of discord to turn something uncomfortable into something new and creative. Like this post. I imagine going back to anything I have ever written or said, and being able to be at peace with what I put out in the world.

I recognize not everyone is like me. That’s a given. I recognize not everyone is kind. That’s a given to. (You don’t need to remind me!) I’ve been around the block. I learn the most from people who don’t see things the same way I do. I like quirks. I like differences. It makes life interesting. I like to be rubbed the wrong way, once in a while, if for no other reason than to smooth out my edges. You can find me seated around the dining table with a mormon, pagan, agnostic, Christian, and witch. Just happened, Wednesday night. And I am okay with it. It’s interesting. I find discrepancies build character. I try to learn and grow, expand if you will, from other’s perspectives. I’ve also learned, that at times, it’s best to say: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Not everything out of everyone’s mouth is something I must digest and ponder.

Yes, I am good at biting my tongue when I’ve been attacked publicly (on social media) or faced an encounter that wasn’t very comfortable, (while I hastily text a friend for emotional support). Where the major challenge comes into play, is in watching autistics call out other autistics publicly. Whether it be accusations, slander, rumor, threats, or the like. I fear that nudge at a vulnerable autistic might be all it takes for one vulnerable to lose all hope or to shut down to the possibility of friendship and/or support. I see how one riled up person can affect the rest of someone else’s life. And that’s hard to watch. Real hard. Hard to hear about. And hard to forget. Given that autistics have challenges with emotional regulations, autistic groups can be a potential mine zone. That’s why it’s particularly important to practice kindness and not over reacting. Unless one craves drama, of course.

mine

Particularly repugnant (to me)  in autistic circles, are the debates filled with gas lighting and attempts to attack a character trait or personality, instead of the subject matter at hand. Just happened to me yesterday. Smart minds can be dangerous minds. Anything out of my mouth was twisted and turned by the recipient. No amount of kindness mattered. Reminded me of dating in my early twenties.

Sometimes it feels like everyone has an opinion, and that they think theirs is the absolute right one! And how dare you ask that they stop their “rant.” Because they have a “right” to be heard. Like I say to my son on the autism spectrum: Autism doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. (Yes, we’ve been hurt and oppressed, misunderstood, battle with emotions, etc. Preaching to the choir.) At times of major discord, (seeing we all have our own comfort-zone, and right to it), it’s best I just pull back and not add fuel to the fire. But then that is often interpreted as admitting defeat, being immature, or huffing off. It’s a no-win situation, when dealing with an irate or set-on-certain-path person. Always is. Best to just not look back. Hopefully, forgive and forget, because we have all been there. Some of my favorite people are self-admitting assholes.

Beyond the drama of autistic groups, as of late, it’s arduous to take in the hypocrisy in activist groups, even those on a large public scale, with big websites. I see individual members of well-intentioned activist groups, who are accomplishing extremely admirable strides for marginalized minorities, also calling out the wrongs of other autistics or professionals in the field. They defame other’s ideas and works on the agency’s personal blog or in public social media. And this is tolerated, if not supported, by the agencies. The thing is, how can someone, whose entire platform is about inclusion and acceptance, call out another person in a public setting? Do you see this is illogical? Or is it just me. If it is just me, I’m open to that. Would be a quick end all to the dilemma!

Then it gets complicated, as the autistic brain likes to do. Like right now:

Am I fully accepting the above activists, in that scenario above, or am I calling them out for discrepancies that rub my values the wrong way?

You see what I mean.

From there, I think to myself: Is it logical to shout out about the rights of a minority, while at the same time picking and choosing who in that collective minority isn’t quite living up to par? The par a given group has agreed upon, of course.

It’s a damn, mini-social system reflecting back the exact ideologies that upset the collective minority to begin with! (My mind hurts.)

I mean, isn’t that exactly what non-autistics do to autistics? Claim how we are not living up to societal expectations of normalcy? So now as an autistic, I am expected to live up to norms of the autistic culture, as well? That’s TWO unwritten rule books. Just when I thought I was going to gain support and comradery, I’ve added on a whole lot, of another, something or another, I don’t quite understand, but need to follow through with, to ensure I belong! Oh, brother! And if not to abide by the activist powers that be, then how to respond when called out for any minor infraction they deem unworthy ? Like those that snarled at “Aspie “above; I know they are out there. Or perhaps they couldn’t even push themselves to move forward, after judging the validity of my whole post on one word.

I ponder: How is it acceptable (or conducive to open discussion) for autistic professionals, affiliated with, and representing an autistic agency, (or guest bloggers/whatever guise you want to wrap it in) to pick apart another autistic’s hard work publicly, just because it doesn’t quite match someone else’s (or agency’s) given ideology or point they are trying to prove? (And I don’t mean mine; hasn’t happened to me . . . yet.)

Do other marginalized minorities do that to each other? I don’t know why it’s hard for me to imagine a visually impaired man dissing another visually impaired man on a professional website dedicated to the blind to prove his point. It just is. Is there a hidden rule I am missing? Personally, when I see someone nit-picking an autistic’s work or words, I learned from (even if minor learning) then the want of connection and collaboration with that someone, kind of fizzles out, like hot air from a balloon. (red balloon). This all circles back to “treat others like you want to be treated.” I don’t want to associate with someone who might use my years of work on autism, as the subject of their next article, to prove a self-serving point or agency’s agenda. Do the means justify the end? I am visualizing which autistic heads we should cut off and put on the podium for the cause. Any volunteers?

yep

Are there no boundaries under some forms of activism? If there are, can some one spell them out?

Perhaps I am missing something here??? Or then, again, perhaps I am taking in the whole to the great extreme. For of course, it is a blatant contradiction in and of itself, to call out and exclude another, whilst standing on a platform of inclusion. Or is activism, by nature, non-inclusive? I need that damn rule book! Or a calm, rational person to explain it to me, without first shaming me for my naïveté or assuming I should know better.

Fortunately, I have this autistic brain, and there are questions I am learning to ask myself about autistic groups and activist agencies, in order to determine if they might potentially cut off my head. I’d like to avoid being a target (chop, chop). Ideally, (if I can find the rule book) I might be an accepted and valued community member with something to offer, despite my use of “Aspergers”.

I’m starting to see the line in the sand more clearly. To see the subsets of autistics. Blame it on my INFJ idealist personality, but a part of me truly thought autistics, for the most part, were inclusive of their own people. I was up until 4:30 in the morning, contemplating and grieving the fact that indeed they are not. Big sigh . . . single tear . . . soft tissue (pink).

In considering my list of questions, sometimes it’s effective to follow the question with a why or why not? Sometimes one answer says it all.

QUESTIONS to PONDER to avoid potential dismemberment of head.

Do the members treat other autistics and non-autistics kindly?

Is there room for compromise and forgiveness? Or is there the adamant ‘they’ versus ‘us’ mentality?

Are they tolerant of different perspectives? (I attended a local conference in the fall of 2016, and a representative from a women’s network accused me of “othering” as soon as I self-identified. Hello! Major red flag.)

Do they expect me to be an activist?

Do they stand by someone who is a known bully? (Sadly, this happens.)

Is the tone of their social media feed mostly fear-induced?  Do they present topics they may not agree with or only stick within a rigid arena?

Do they come up with constructive solutions to disagreement, maturely?

Is there sensationalism? Is there bias? Do they allow two sides of the story?

Is there a greater cause? (Beyond a self-serving agenda?)

If I affiliated with an agency or person they didn’t like, would I then be ostracized or removed from the group? Would I be bad-mouthed? (I wrote an article for an autism agency many do not like, for their own valid reasons; I did so because writing articles for agencies is part of my job at my place of employment. As a professional, I must remain neutral to keep my job. How many would jump to conclusions and take that as an opportunity to lash out?)

If I chose to self identify as ‘Aspie’ or ‘Aspergers,’ would that be okay? Or do they dictate how, on page one, I need to identify? Is the word Aspergers viewed with disdain? Will I have to use excess energy to feel like I belong? Or will they accept me as is, unconditionally?

Are they a bunch of angry people gathered together to rile up people? Are they blind to their own ways?

Do the participants support a list of rules of what words I can and cannot use? What happens if I mess up?

Do guest articles support inclusion or do they call out particular autistics’ or non-autistics’ faults?

Can they present an argument without name calling and dissecting one’s character, personality, or style of communication?

Is the overall tone about acceptance, or is it really segregation masked as inclusion?

The End. Now argue amongst yourselves. I will be watching Netflix: Damages. You can learn a lot from a back-stabbing crime show.

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-12-00-02-am

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29 thoughts on ““Aspie” Rant: Integrity within Autistic Groups and Networks

  1. Oh gosh yes! The lack of inclusivity on a group that gets up about lack of inclusivity !
    To be shouted at for saying “I have autism” rather than “I’m autistic”. To be told I’m different not disabled. And then entitled to adjustments for my disability. To hear that only autistics can decide something but my voice is not welcome.
    Inconsistency, illogicality, insanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m really sorry you’ve been going through this. I witnessed something similar recently and ducked out of the Autism community on Twitter that I’d been a part of.
    This is so, so pertinent:
    “Blame it on my INFJ idealist personality, but a part of me truly thought autistics, for the most part, were inclusive of their own people. I was up until 4:30 in the morning, contemplating and grieving the fact that indeed they are not. Big sigh . . . single tear . . . soft tissue (pink).”

    Please remember how much good you do; I’ve recently got my official diagnosis, aged 34, and I’m not sure I ever would have got to where I am now if I hadn’t discovered you and your writing 9/10 (ish) years ago. Thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. So sorry to read of these troubles. It is so illogical, it makes one’s head spin! I’ve faced similar situations, but none that I believe approach the magnitude of what you have shared here.

    One thing I would encourage you to remember is the degree of awareness you are bringing to this issue; it is the same awareness that those who find it necessary to detract and tear you down are triggered by. Awareness is incredibly healthy – not to mention, powerful – so to groups that need to conform around specific ideology, it is threatening, and it can definitely provoke reactions that fall into the extreme. Don’t let yourself be mired in others’ jealousy. Please don’t let what is extraordinary about you become a burden. Sometimes the more vehemently others react, the better indicator it is that you are pushing forward in the right direction.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been thinking about you today. There are few people in the world like you. I don’t know many. If fact, you may be numbered among less than a handful of people who have the ability to absolve anger within yourself and release, instead kindness. You are like a filter for the world. You intake everything- the good, the bad, the ugly- and then you release only the good back into the world. The cycle of abuse stops with you. YOU change the outcomes around you. You heal instead of passing on hurt. You love instead of passing on anger. You are a chosen one. I imagine society would be so much kinder, so very different than what we have now, if people had your gift for healing. You really amaze me. Not just because you accept the responsibility to hear mean words and not lash out, but because you don’t give up. You keep on going. Even when people would tell you to quit, even when people would lash out and crush your dreams, even when you may have every reason to doubt your gifts, you keep on going. . . and in doing so, you restore people’s faith in humanity. You are a beacon of hope in a very dark world. I am so glad that you exist.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Beautifully articulated.

    Kindness is my primary motivation. I would also like to think that when the ripples of my life finally settle and are still, that I have brought more joy into the world than negativity.

    We all feel angry, we all have righteous, justified anger. Being autistic has been a lifetime of being misunderstood. We should expect understanding from those who think like us, but then the reality seeps in; they’re just people too. Flawed and selfish and arrogant, lovely and generous and kind.

    It takes immense strength to keep from letting your anger hurt other people unjustly. It takes immense character to carry on in the face of more unfairness.

    Just know that you are appreciated by many. You are putting that kindness into the world.

    Your descriptions have helped more people than you will ever know. Keep fighting the kind fight. The world needs it now more than ever 💐

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for your thought provoking post, it has certainly led me to think about how I phrase the things I say and write. I can see the point that you make, but have little experience of it. Probably because I am fairly new to the party. Whilst I can be riled by others and have preferences on how I choose to identify, I cannot fathom the logic of getting angry at others for their choices in this. I see myself as an aspie with aspergers and autistic. Not as someone who has autism. If someone else see themselves as having autism what possible difference does that make to me? It’s not language I would use but then again I don’t use Spanish either but it doesn’t colour my view of people who do.

    Now if I or someone else says this is how I identify myself and somebody says that’s wrong or ignore me because they think I’m wrong then that makes me cross and I struggle not to get drawn into this, likewise I struggle not to get defensive when someone who is not autistic feels the need to tell me how I do or should experience the world. Largely because to do these things to anyone under any circumstances is rude and impolite.
    It’s not that I don’t judge others I am human after all. I just don’t feel the need to marginalise people and would rather see commonality. Not that I’m perfect and whilst this is an ideal for me there are limits, I wouldn’t tolerate open hate or actions that seek to subjugate others. That said there is a right and a wrong way of fighting such things and throwing abuse and unpleasantries around is I suspect not the right way.
    Please keep doing your thing and know that there are many who agree with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes!!!! I dont know if you read my second or third last instagram but it was in response to all the “advocacy” and division and hypocritical vocal stances about everything right now. I feel like John Lennon’s song, ” I’m sick and tired of hearing things
    From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics, All I want is the truth
    Just gimme some truth…” and then I take it further – what is truth? In short I would prefer people to truthfully and honestly face and accept the contradictions within themselves and focus on the growth in that.
    I feel the same as you and while I do feel irritation I save my anger for my music and moments I can rant at those who understand that I truly do take into all perspectives in the end. But sometimes it is hard. To see all the contradictions…I so get this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautifully written. Bravo! In my own simplistic comment I’ll say that
    so many times I’ve found myself writing a response to someone’s post on an Autism related site and then deleted it just before posting for fear of becoming entangled in a debate. As an late diagnosed mom with an son who is Aspie has Autism whatever we’re calling it at the moment- I follow many ASD blogs and news feeds and it’s always amazed me at the amount of bullying that goes on in the discussions from our own ASD demographic who (many) have
    experienced being bullied in their lives.
    Your post is absolutely the Truth. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post is really well-written. The online world of autism is fraught with difficulties and potential misunderstandings as I too have recently found out (“attempts to attack a character trait or personality, instead of the subject matter at hand”). You show a lot of restraint. Not everybody shows the same restraint. I can’t pretend to be as restrained as you. We are all human. But sometimes peoples’ egos dominate their responses and blinds them to the meaning behind the comment, so they go on the attack.

    “The thing is, how can someone, whose entire platform is about inclusion and acceptance, call out another person in a public setting?”

    But that is the nature of debate and because everything is online, so that’s where it takes place. It’s a fact of life that if we post online, we have to steel ourselves for the responses. We must be strong enough to withstand them.

    Sorry you had a bad experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post! I shared it on my blog, and I wrote something in response: https://visualvox.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/reverse-engineering-our-autistic-rage/

    This stuff seems to have picked up more, lately, since the election especially, and it’s getting pretty trying. As orthodox as Aspies / Auties can be, if we’re going to wave the flag about our differences and proclaim that we need extra help because we have certain impairments, then it’s best to keep the fact of those impairments in mind and not carry on like you’re “all that” and you’re infallible. Because you just made the case that you have more needs because you’re NOT infallible.

    The inconsistency drives me to distraction. Oh, well. Off I go to come up with something more productive to do about all this… 😉

    Thanks for the great writing! Glad to see you back blogging regularly again.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you ‘Aspie” for writing this post these points have been troubling me for some time.

    Naively I thought that those on the autism spectrum would support each -other and would not be inclined to such gas- lighting. I’d hoped to find a refuge from such attitudes being played out and, like you, wonder how a stance of anti- bullying can be founded upon bullying.

    As a minority group our efforts towards greater equality rest upon mutual respect of each other and yes, and for those non-autistics who still don’t have an appreciation of who we are .

    I fell could of the autism police before I’d even found there was a prescribed and proscribed language and behaviour etc. Lashing out, ganging up and/or ostracising people who are finding their way is counterproductive to all concerned.

    Have a Happy Chinese New Year … year of the Rooster.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thank you for writing that. It needs to be said. I do find it an irony that groups can become an microcosm of the society at large. Something my incredibly wise late mother taught me and I value as the greatest social rules I live by is simply treat others as you want to be treated. Integrity is your own, how much you value it is up to you, as is how much you are prepared compromise it to get want you want. Manners cost nothing and chivalry is not dead.

    Surely we all have enough to deal with understanding and being understood in wider society, than to start on each other.

    But hey maybe that just me

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am not privy to the situation that triggered your experience, but you are the first person/place I felt helped me with finally coming to terms with Aspergers. I will say at first I refused to be labeled an “aspie”, but after a couple of years studying I realized Aspergers is indeed how I am wired. What a burden of self loathing has been lifted! But AM I Aspergers? Or do I HAVE Aspergers? I do not hear people say I AM Depression, or I AM Anxiety Disorder, or I AM Cancer. No, it is always I HAVE. So I have Aspergers. Who I AM is ME. I am ME ME ME (from Dr Who). What I have is Aspergers. It is not an illness or a disorder or a disease. Thank you for reminding me to stay away from groups bearing labels. I have always given clubs that have an exclusive code for admittance and behavior a wide berth and I see no reason to change that decision which was made after many years of trying to meet the expectations of others. You are a wonderful person and I am immensely glad to have found my way to you.

    Like

    1. thanks for sharing. How I view myself changes and transitions based on my reality, which is ‘normal.’ I respect people’s right to find what they resonate with. I was with Aspergers, then Aspie, now autistic.. but it will change. And that’s okay. It’s not okay to tell someone how to be or identify… beyond kindness… that I can’t let go of.. be kind 🙂

      Like

  14. It happened to me just last week: I got invited by a fellow autistic physical therapist to join a Dutch FB group called ‘women with autism’ (translated), very quickly I was chatting with some very interesting people on my book’s research subject: Aspie-aspie relationships. I got banned from the group the same day. The reason was that I was a man (of course, my FB page mentions as well) and that I shouldn’t be allowed to post messages, furthermore a man shouldn’t post things about relationships on the forum. Well, I could understand that but I clearly mentioned I was happily in a aspie-aspie relationship myself.

    This is where I thought that I don’t need to be discriminated by anyone, other autists included.

    I discussed it with the last who invited me in the first place and we laughed at it in the end, because we understood the real problem was a cultural clash:
    we are set to help others towards active inclusion, they are set towards passive (self-) exclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

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