Last updated on April 25, 2016
WARNING: I’m about to piss some people off. Like, probably a lot. I’m using a lot of curse words and I’m talking about some very personal and serious things, and if you have rough triggers, beware. You have been warned. (But, you probably already figured that out from the title…)
This conversation is grinding through my brain. It’s bugging me and it’s preying on me because it grates on every single decent thing I know about humans. The short version is, “Be kind to this utter asshole who insults you and has been known to be abusive to you and others because, hey, they’re autistic, and you should be compassionate to that because you are and your kids are. You should understand.”
Um…. no. Fuck that.
Here’s more of the situation to put it all into context: There’s a person that I don’t talk to because they’re an asshole. Yes, I know they’re on the spectrum, and I know that they never had the benefit of knowing they were on the spectrum until recently (if they even realize it now), and I know that it’s quite likely that a great deal of their behavior comes from being on the spectrum and having absolutely no filter operating between brain and mouth. And, yes, I know that this person has a long history of this behavior, so I really shouldn’t be surprised, but that’s where it’s kind of an ender for me.
I’ve known this person a long time, given specific and direct feedback about the nature of the things that I feel uncomfortable with (“uncomfortable” ranging from “offended that anyone would even say that to another human” to “not safe and kind of threatened”), and the behavior hasn’t changed. So, essentially, this other person was trying to take me to task for not talking to someone that treats me poorly because said person is on the spectrum, even though the spectrum person has been given ample opportunity and feedback to change.
Are you seriously using autism spectrum disorder as an excuse for abusive behavior? Developmentally delayed children are still corrected for abusive behavior and their environments adjusted to keep them from hurting themselves and others, but a grown-ass adult who has had ample time and ample conversation to be aware of their own unacceptable behavior should be excused because spectrum!?!?
Double fuck that.
I do have kids on the spectrum – some more than others – and I can tell you that being autistic is not some kind of “trapped in amber” moment where we know what we know and that’s it. Contrary to what it appears this other person thinks about autism, it doesn’t take much to learn something new. We can change habits, we can control ourselves, and we can even get trained up on how to human with other humans in a nicely human (or at least human-like) way. Even my youngest who is essentially non-verbal has learned after being corrected only once or twice not to bite or pinch or hit.
And, yes, I know every autie is different, that we’re all made up of a mix of different genes and behaviors and factors that are all pulled from the same bag but never assembled the same twice, but seriously. This is an adult person of above-average intelligence, not a non-verbal 8-year-old.
Look, I know that somewhere in them is this other person who isn’t malicious and mean. I know that maybe they think they’re being funny. I also know that psychopathic killers are not walking around 24/7 plotting ways to murder people – they have to pay the water bill sometime, and maybe go to the grocery story. I’m sure this person doesn’t sit around plotting the next shitty thing to say to me or anyone else – and I’m pretty sure they know they’re an asshole because they say it themselves frequently and have avoided humans as a whole for much the same reason. Or, to put it another way, I can have compassion that a person has a specific brain configuration (they cannot help what they desire) that makes them think it’s okay to fuck little kids, but that doesn’t mean that I have to let them fuck little kids.
It’s established, the assholery is present (always) and accounted for (possibly untherapied autism, definitely bad filters), so that’s supposed to put me and my comfort level as less important than theirs. Somehow, I should be okay with being victimized by demeaning and suggestive language and behavior towards me and mine because, hey, they’re autistic.
I won’t go so far as to say “victim blaming” – that’s not quite what this is, but it’s in the same vein. I will say that I have every right in the world as a human to defend myself from crappy behavior. The rules are the same for every person in my life – you can treat me with respect or you can GTFO. And I have a list of people on both sides of that decision-making process that I can refer you to in case you doubt. And someone else getting nominated for that list as well right now.
There’s a part of me that shouldn’t be surprised since this conversation comes from a culture where they really did blame the victim, where girls (or boys) were raped or molested because they just weren’t careful and then they were afterwards forever branded as “soiled”, “used up”, “less than worthy”. But, again, if that’s where you came from but you have since learned that that way of thinking is wrong, then perpetuating it is not a good look for you. In fact, it kind of makes you look like an asshole.