Tales from the Spectrum: the Autistic Asshole

Last updated on February 11, 2021

syllogism1
This person is an asshole. This person is autistic. All autistic people are assholes. FALSE.

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…)

ALSO: The original post was on April 25, 2016. I’ve edited this for clarification and grammar as of February 1, 2021. I love your feedback. <3


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, Person A told me, “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:  I don’t talk to Person B anymore 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. And, yes. I know that it’s quite likely that a great deal of their… questionable behavior comes from that autie feature of having absolutely no filter operating between brain and mouth.  Person B has a long history of not being called out for this behavior, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.

As I’ve known Person B a long time, I’ve given specific and direct feedback about the nature of the things that I feel uncomfortable with – and I mean “uncomfortable” ranging from “offended that anyone would even say that to another human” to “not safe and kind of threatened”. Their behavior hasn’t changed.  

Person A, however, 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. 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 am on the spectrum, and I have more than the normal number of kids on the spectrum, 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 Person A thinks about autism, it doesn’t take much for us 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. We’re each made up totally unique mixes of different genes and behaviors and factors that are all pulled from the same bag but never assembled the same twice.  Person B is an adult person of above-average intelligence, not a non-verbal 8-year-old, so…. why the excuses?

Look, I know that somewhere in Person B is someone 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 Person B 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 that the assholery is present, and it’s probably “just” untherapied autism. But, you don’t have to be diagnosed with autism to learn to be a decent human. Finding out that Person B is or isn’t autistic and making an excuse for their behavior – putting me in the line of fire – demands that 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 that Person A is “victim blaming” – it’s not quite that far, but it’s in the same vein (and they’ve displayed that tendency heavily in other areas).  Regardless of the person – regardless of NT or ND status, regardless of any diagnosis – I have the right as a human to protect 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.

There’s a part of me that shouldn’t be surprised since Person A 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.


Other posts related to this one: Autistic Masking

Dawn Written by:

32 Comments

  1. JJ
    October 27, 2017
    Reply

    I love this so much!

  2. Katheleen
    May 9, 2018
    Reply

    Pure gold XD

  3. Sidney
    May 25, 2018
    Reply

    I completely agree

  4. Karin
    May 27, 2018
    Reply

    I can’t agree with the article more since I’m working with an autistic ass hole at work who feel so entitled when in reality no one gives a shit about him and secretly wishes him to go away forever. You have described exactly how my co-workers and I have felt for months, can’t thank you more for sharing some truth and common sense with us this time.

  5. Lola
    June 12, 2020
    Reply

    Omg I was just thinking this today. The word asshole. I had no idea that someone else out there felt the same way. Usually when I read an article it tries to get people to sympathize with the person on the spectrum. I have tried to for 4 years or more. I even have done alot of research to understand but 😐their behavior is starting to urk me so I seldomly interact with them. I shouldn’t want to 👀 go off on my own friend. Thank you for this article it’s nice to know someone out there can relate.

  6. Karen
    June 17, 2020
    Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more when you read your article. You are absolutely the one with compassion and understanding here! Thank you for being so honest because in fact I am working with an autistic asshole myself and I can totally relate to what you say~

  7. Laura
    November 19, 2020
    Reply

    Yes. I could not agree more. Both my sister and I are neurotypical and have delt with abusive behavior from out now 21 year old autistic brother. A grown man who acts violent is unacceptable regardless of being on the spectrum. I can tell you my brother has even strangled me, and had there not been another person in the house I dont believe he would have stopped. Yet, after the incident I was told “be understanding that he has triggers” and “you know your brother loves and would do anything for you, right?”. Those on the spectrum are ultimately also human, and humans can be assholess.

  8. Ilona
    November 26, 2020
    Reply

    Autistic or not, assholes are assholes lol

  9. dd
    December 23, 2020
    Reply

    I guess autistic people can be prone to being assholes because of their limited ability of putting themselves in other people’s shoes. If you don’t see your behavior from any perspective but your own, it’s more difficult to undestand what may be wrong or even feel any need to change at all. You don’t perceive the damage you’re doing, so ‘what’s the big deal?’ It’s also worth mentioning that autism can come with other comorbid disorders, which may be partially responsible for this kind of behavior. Of course, this doesn’t mean they should use this as a pass for not even trying.

    • December 30, 2020
      Reply

      And that’s really my point, dd. Yes, absolutely, autism comes with a SLEW of comorbidities that show up on the “personality disorder” lists, but it’s so much more important to be conscious of that. Using “autism” as the pass to be a jackass is like anyone else who uses a disadvantage as an excuse to not try: just not a very good human, really.

  10. AnAA
    January 22, 2021
    Reply

    So… Autistic Asshole here… found the post and read most of it.. got a bit grindy for a bit there, but I think I get the jist of what you’re saying.

    I want to provide some examples from my side, simply as consideration, I have no desire to demean or belittle your perspective, and I appreciate you just laying it all out. Something my own extended family didn’t give me any courtesy of was giving me any feedback through our time together. I never knew how to adjust myself because no one told me. And yes, we really have no clue sometimes. I’m 40 now and I can completely miss a flirt. Like Data’s daughter trying to catch the ball. Whoops.

    My Autism has been like trying to process the world from a fire ladder fire hose through a flour sieve, caked with dried axle grease… and the edges completely sealed by an unobtanium o-ring.
    Information overload is a daily occurrence, and even the slightest disrespect for the most basic of common sense rules is my trigger point. I’ve gotten better at controlling my reactions, but it took some effort on my part. Things like using your turn signal, not trying to merge into me to get to the interstate when it’s the next lane over and I’m in the way, or even simply tailgating me through a posted speed limit zone (ESPECIALLY a school zone. There are true monsters out there, and all you need are wheels under you to ruin someone’s life, and too many people disrespect that – self included, and I’ve tried to be better.) Everyone screams about being equal and having their say, but no one will respect common rules in place to keep everyone safe. And you get upset at me? Your car is literally a weapon, and most folks get the equivalent of training necessary to operate a can opener. It terrifies me that some of you are gun owners, and I have neighbors that shoot on the weekends. I absolutely support your right to have ’em.

    But, and I fully acknowledge the counter-punch on comorbids. My own diagnosis was the ASD and basically anxiety and depression. I knew there was more. I didn’t even know about the BiPolar connection until I researched it myself. Even our healthcare systems, as much as they try, aren’t 100%, and people are expecting absolutes from an area that is quite frankly…science. We need to remember to be kind and gentle with everyone, and if the person is not doing that… it is ultimately the person’s choice, not the disorder. I adore the strengths my ASD gives me, but I fully acknowledge the wild sides, and I really do work to better myself from them. Unlike your example, I endeavor, not unlike Commander Data, to be more human. To be more like you NTs. I desperately want to live a normal life, to not be persecuted over my shortcomings and shortfalls, and to contribute to everyone’s wellbeing. I serve no one by being a miserable grouch.

    • February 1, 2021
      Reply

      I KNOW, RIGHT? (That was non-sarcastic, I am truly agreeing with you on all counts, and thank you for the editing feedback. I’m working on an edit for it because it was definitely written some time ago).

      I’m sorry if you got the impression that I was an NT, but absolutely not! I’m very spectrum, but my point was that people who use being on the spectrum as an excuse to be asshole-y or are given a pass to be assholes just because they might be or are are doing themselves and everyone else a massive disservice.

      More recently, I’ve been finding a lot of research on learning the difference between masking and accomplishing what you’re talking about – the “learning how to human” part. The main difference is that masking is emulation – giving the “right answer” even though we don’t know why – while “learning to human” is developing emotional empathy moderation, cognitive empathy skills, individuation versus objectification… but once we get there (and I say “we” because I’ve watched so many auties get there), we’re decidedly better than NTs. Just a little something to look forward to. <3

  11. BJ
    January 29, 2021
    Reply

    What a load of bs. Seems like the author is the asshole. And an ignorant one at that

    • February 1, 2021
      Reply

      And what I hear from this is a lot of defensiveness. I guess you’ve been accused of being an asshole? Or you think that autistics should just be allowed to “express themselves however”? I’m truly curious. Which part do you think is bs?

  12. DD
    February 2, 2021
    Reply

    Hello, would you mind referring me to any source where I could learn about the “masking vs. empathy skills” you were talking about in your reply to Anaa?
    I’m particularly interested in HFA in relation to personal relationships. From an NT point of view (I am one), masking is often a major issue that, when finally exposed, leads to the impression of having been living a lie, or having been cheated, although I undestand how difficult relationships must be for austic people and why they would resort to masking in order to get a chance. I can empathize with that, even if it ultimately leads to loss of trust and it jeopardizes the relationship itself, that’s why I would like to know if there are alternatives.
    It seems to me that this kind of issues is still “uncharted territory” for the most part, even in scientific literature, and it’s a shame. I often find many people, whether they’re on the spectrum or not, being very judgmental and confrontational, as if NTs and Aspies were at war or something, and it saddens me tremendously, since this attitude, along with lack of knowledge, pulls us apart and hinders our mutual understanding. I have many questions going round in my head, I hope not all of them will remain unanswered.

    • February 3, 2021
      Reply

      That is a FANTASTIC question, DD, and I’m about to post a follow-up blog to this discussing it in more detail. The short version is, though, that a major part of the support and therapy that auties receive is to learn consciously about both emotional and cognitive empathy. There is a lot of confusion about empathy, and a lot of NTs do imagine that it’s just “something you do,” like it’s an inherent quality. The big question I hear around it is, “How can you teach someone to give a shit about someone else?” Um? Auties care deeply about other people, but they don’t always show it in a way that NTs can recognize.

      Don’t feel lied to because your autie masks. For so many of us, we had no idea that we were on the spectrum, but there was extreme pressure to “fit in,” to make it look like NTs. It was very much a matter of displaying the “right answers” without knowing how to actually do the calculations. So, we have to go back and learn those social mores consciously with the background logic and reasoning. (Yes, emotions have logic and reasoning, they just apply to emotions.) Look for the next blog post today or tomorrow. <3

  13. MS
    February 11, 2021
    Reply

    Oh thank God that I just found this!!!! I don’t even have the words to express how helpful this is.

  14. Erin Shaw
    February 17, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m NT in some ways but have depression, cPTSD and anxiety majorly. My fiancé is an autistic asshole. I think he can make progress though, but he needs more feedback. But I feel understood and heard- I never felt I could fully call out his crap and still be sensitive to his way of doing things. Thank you so much.

  15. Matt
    February 23, 2021
    Reply

    I came to doing some research on the attitudes struggles and patterns of people on the spectrum as I have had to lock horns with people who are either diagnosed or undiagnosed autistics for the last few years. Luckily, they were in my free time activities so avoiding their toxic behavior is easier now. I tried to give them a break, understand their issues and made effort I did not see in return. And I for a while thought I had to try so hard to conquer the negative feelings heir behaviors gave me. Its nice to see someone not being an apologist for bad behavior. Its good to see that Autistics are capable of being responsible and not falling into the trap of accepting the bad behavior. I think this shows that Autistic people CAN succeed, some just can’t try but more than we might like to admit, DON’T try.

    • February 23, 2021
      Reply

      I won’t lie, sometimes it’s really hard to bridge that gap as an autie in order to get on with other humans, but some effort at least needs to be made. It’s not about “being held to the same standards as NTs,” it’s about belonging to a species. There is no excuse to be knowingly toxic. Good on you for keeping your boundaries!

  16. One who knows
    March 12, 2021
    Reply

    I like your candor. Fuck people who know better and still use any disability as an excuse. There is some leeway but not the whole fucking way

  17. Laura
    August 8, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you!! Reading this has me near tears with relief. My best friend is Autistic & I love them. But, sometimes their actions & words to me are so hurtful. And if I try to say anything it is met with, “well, you know I’m autistic” or some sort of gaslighting that makes me question if I’m in the wrong.
    Thank you for this post that draws a line between jerk behavior & autism.

  18. Pam
    September 12, 2021
    Reply

    I’m an autistic asshole that uses my powers to tell anti vaxxers & american republicans to fuck off bc most of them are stupid douches…as well as extreme leftists that are anti-free speech & insist on making gender shit more complicated and making clear concise communication impossible…and therefore making life harder for my disabled butt ;).

  19. Anonymous
    December 13, 2021
    Reply

    Thanks for the article.

    Have you considered that Person B may have been bullied and their brain inadvertently trained itself to protect from and adversity? Like it or not, childhood intervention has a much greater chance of “recovery” than later in life (when you’re set in your ways; can’t teach an old dog new tricks). Not sure what type of behavior you’ve experienced with Person B, but you’re just contributing to their defensive wall by treating them like garbage.

    I can tell you’re on the spectrum, comparing autism to pedophilia 🙂 I make bizarre analogies myself. You sound like one of those people who were rejected and teased, picked last for any sports team in elementary school, then finally included and now indulging in the same behavior because you are finally “one of the gang” and included.

    I think you focus too much on the psychological exemplars of autism, but there are physical considerations too. For example, an ND may get stressed to the point of almost having a heart attack because there are dishes in the sink. The feeling of being overwhelmed is not a good one and I think our bodies shutdown when we are overloaded, leading to “autopilot” behavior that doesn’t require much effort, which in ND case, means no filter since that requires effort for us and apparently not for NTs.

    • January 21, 2022
      Reply

      So, JediLink, to clear up a couple of things: I don’t always get notifications about comments on my posts, and I have everything set to Moderated because I’ve lived on the internet a looooooong time. That being said, I will not be approving your other comments because they’re mostly redundant to this one.

      I was not, in fact, suggesting that autism is like pedophilia: I was making a point about excessive tolerance, Popper’s Paradox. Don’t confuse comparison of tolerance to conflation. And your assumptions about my history say a lot more about you than about me.

      I have known Person B my entire life, and, yeah, they had their share of bullying, but not from me – and in fact, quite the reverse, which was the whole point of the article. Moreover, I’m specifically *not* treating them “like garbage” by deliberately avoiding them. Your premise suggests that I am meant to take responsibility for their choices and their behaviors, which is exactly what Person A was trying to get me to do.

      And it’s bullshit.

      I know painfully well the physical experiences of overwhelm, melting down, shutting down, freezing up… I have all the “best” autie traits, including anxiety, depression, sensory processing disorders, etc. And I’m sure Person B experienced those things, too – but that still doesn’t excuse the consequences, nor the justification or rationalization after the fact. If I lose my shit and put a hole in a wall or deck someone, I’ve got to be accountable to that. If someone tells me that I’ve said something that made them uncomfortable, it’s on me to not say that shit again – and to try to understand *why*. That’s what decent humans do, regardless of their diagnoses.

      If you’re trying to make excuses for someone to act like a dick, it probably means you want to justify being a dick – but there is no law, rule, or expectation that I have to tolerate you being a dick around me.

  20. Jpozambela@hotmail.com
    January 26, 2022
    Reply

    Thank you!!!

  21. ReformedASDAss
    June 16, 2022
    Reply

    I was at one point the autistic asshole, but I’m fairly confident I’ve gotten better with age (25). Only like 10% as opposed to 50%.

    Don’t make excuses for me. I don’t, but I’ll share my story anyways. Hopefully it can help others.

    Much of my assholeness I think was tied into growing up in one place, with the assholery peaking in late high school. I had too much history with my classmates and they with me.

    They remembered every time I made an insensitive joke, tactless comment, took over an intellectual debate, or just plain lost my cool in public. The last trait pushing me from standard aspie into AH territory.

    I remembered every time they bullied me, lied to me, whispered behind my back, hit me, and worst of all, manipulated me in some greater social game that I had no idea of until the social traps had already sprung.

    But I was an asshole. It took little to set me off yelling at people who didn’t deserve it because I had become socially jealous and paranoid.

    Many of my greatest bullies were socially skilled so I conflated all social butterflys with bullies. I resented their gifts while also fearing the sh*tstorm they could rain on me. Genuine attempts to be nice I either shrugged off or told off because they were either complicit in being friends with bullies or were setting another trap, in my mind at least.

    I had lost the will to improve myself socially because my family and few friends were my rock and I didnt WANT anyone else. Not from HS at least.

    I had gone several years feeling almost no emotion, except that which was punctuated by meltdown levels of rage or sadness.

    But then HS ended and college came.

    I realized what a blessing this clean slate was socially, but had no skills to back it up and build myself.

    I lost my few social tethers. My family and friends. I tried and made some shallow friendships but I got sad.

    I realize now I probably had comorbid depression most of HS, but it came to a head in freshman year of college. It got to where I was looking down stairwells and acknowledging the long drop.

    One long night alone in my bedroom I called my father. I told him I was spiraling and didn’t trust myself, he told me to tell someone in my dorm and wait for him. My amazing roommate waited with me. My amazing (and probably ASD) father drove 2 hours to pick me up.

    This was a wakeup call. I started seeing a psychologist. One of my biggest symptoms of depression following this episode was guilt. Crushing guilt for every bit of pain I had caused going back to age 12, intentionally or otherwise, by being an ass. I had flashbacks of peoples hurt faces.

    My psychologist ultimately helped me find self forgiveness, and learn to move on.

    This set me on a good foundation to build my social skills.

    I graduated college with good friends, in part by finding my niches. Find people who share your passions. These people are where you can unload your knowlege. Just dont get mad when someone knows more.

    I graduated with a double major, best in my major for one of them. I now have a job in my field of study thousands of miles from home, have an NT girlfriend of 8 months whom I love, have multiple friends among coworkers. Im invited to the parties now. I cry watching movies now because I can feel again.

    Here is my list of things I did to improve social interactions. These things I have read, been told or observed. They worked for me they man not work for you. Pick and choose wisely.

    Hygiene-Wash your hair and wear deoderant consistently. Greasy hair can give off creeper vibes to many and BO will actively repell people and cause them to judge you. Both will cause snap judgements about you because they are surficial. Also looking/smelling good can help boost self confidence in social interactions.

    Clothes- Wear clean unripped clothes. Rewear if you dont have many outfits. Consult with friends, siblings, cousins, etc. on outfits. Once again people make quick judgements based on appearances. Self confidence booster.

    Manners- Please and Thankyou. Be polite, but not just with words. Look them in the eye and smile. Body language is important, so observe others ( but dont stare). Eye contact isn’t natural for me, but my Dad started me young. Do your best. Smiling produces a positivity feedback signal to make you feel happy, so you’ll enjoy doing it more. It will also make your voice sound more positive by stretching vocal muscles. My voice was always very flat, and smiling helps add character.

    Humor- observe the humor style of the group you’re in so you can better find boundaries. Maybe stay away from tough topics like religion, race, politics, personal family stuff, until you know your group’s positions on subjects and how far they will push the boundary of appropriateness. Or just stay away from those. Master comedians tackle these all the time, but will occasionally get burned still.

    Talking- ask more questions than you provide answers/opinions, and dont ask questions just to guide the conversation toward your intellectual wheelhouse. I get it. I love debating, but most people dont want to stay on one topic more than 5 minutes. On that, dont rewind the conversation just because you had a thought. Let it go. People remember if they enjoy your company.

    Tact-Actively pause yourself before you critique someone. Is it constuctive phrasing? Continue. Not. Stop. Unsure. Stop. Also if you dont know someone well maybe hold off on critique period. People will take it personally. Only say something if they are out of line. People remember if they enjoy your company.

    Apologize- make it prompt, short, sincere, and dont give excuses. Do it in person. Do it in public around the people who observed the incident happen. This bravery shows sincerity. Look them in them in the eye as best you can. And forgive yourself, everyone makes mistakes. Now learn from them and dont do it again. Dont use an apology as an excuse to keep doing as you have been doing. And dont be stubborn, I know I am.

    Relationship maintainance, friends, girlfriends, even family. Keep in touch! Being friends a month ago wont hold up if you never text! Dont let the other person do all the work. If you value a relationship then respond promptly, and try to reach out at the same rate you are reached out to. It shows you care.

    Judging people- I kept making snap decisions about whether I liked popular people, people who dress up, jocks, anyone who reminded me of my bullies well into college. But I realized that this was limiting for me and unfair for them so I invented a mental trick to try to train myself out of negative snap judgements. Everyday when I got on the bus I would look at every person that got on and consciously make a positive snap judgement. Jock, “he probably works hard to stay in shape, I respect it”. Popular, “probably is involved in community events, I respect it.” Even if I didnt believe these at first, it eventally allowed me to start trusting people again, because most people want to do good/be good. Give them an excuse. Yes there are assholes, but surrounding yourself with good people helps protect you from the bad. Listen to the good ones.

    I had long resisted NT training. I thought it dishonest, which is a big no no in my book. The one exception being my father alway making me look him in the eye during the ‘serious talks’ from a young age. Something engrained in him by his father. But its not dishonest if you are consciously choosing to improve your relationships one skill at a time though practice. Take it slow, and work it into your routine. Accept that if you want better relationships as an autistic individual, you will need to work harder, and more consciously than a NT. And it’s worth it. I promise.

    Please see someone if you’re having depression symptoms, even mild ones. It can bubble up when its bottled up. I bottled it for too long.

    Sincerely

    A hopefully reformed ASD Asshole

    • June 16, 2022
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Reformed, for sharing your story! I know so many people who felt like their social difficulties were permanent condemnation, so why even bother to change? As an autie, advocate, and impending professional in this field, it’s sad and frustrating because, dudes, we have so much power at our disposal. All these intense feels, all these complex thoughts, they are (potentially) superpowers – and just like superpowers, if they’re not managed well and trained, they become disasters and disabilities.

      I absolutely adore your method for dealing with snap judgments! There’s a wisdom that says that the first thought that occurs to you about someone/thing is what you’re conditioned to think, and you have the power to change/choose the second thought to be in line with your true/desired values. Trauma and depression counts as “conditioning,” and I love that you shifted your mental habits into choosing compassion and respect. It’s enormous.

      One thing I am curious about, though, is that you mentioned you have an NT girlfriend. In my personal community, we’ve noticed that even if we think we’re having “blended” relationships, it turns out that both parties are ND but maybe in different ways. A buddy of mine I’ve known for over 30 years is engaged to a lovely autie/ND lady (also known her for ages), and he joked that he was going to write a book about how to have a relationship with an autie girl.

      I said, “Um, hold up. I’ve known you for decades, so I can say this in absolute seriousness: do you actually thing you’re neurotypical?”

      And he paused, and he thought about it, and then he said, “… yes? … shit, I’m not, am I.”

      And thus began his journey of discovering that undiagnosed and unsupported autism and ADHD was the root of his depression, anxiety, and (former) addictions.
      In the support community, we’re approaching depression and anxiety in ND people as symptoms rather than underlying conditions, and it’s making all the difference. I think I’ve mentioned before, as my late granny used to say, “Don’t go diagnosing yourself with clinical depression when the real problem is that you’re surrounded by assholes.” That approach keeps us from taking medications that don’t work (or that make things worse) and puts the onus on mental skills training to manage it first.

      I’m so incredibly glad that you have a supportive and loving family and that you found a great therapist to work with! It makes my heart sing. <3

  22. ReformedASDAsshole
    June 16, 2022
    Reply

    Hey Dawn,

    I guess I should specify that I was clinically diagnosed with ASD, depression, and anxiety, just to clarify.

    Also, I know you hazarded against non clinical diagnoses, but that gave me an interesting thought based on my experiences. Im reasonably sure my dad would be diagnosed with ASD if he went to a psychologist. I’m even more certain my grandfather on his side would have also. My father trained me to look him in the eye during important conversations, and according to him his father did the same thing. I know ASD tends to run in families. This gives me an interesting family studies/sociology question.

    Do you think that ASD prone families as a whole have developed specialized parenting methods to better raise ASD children, and are these methods passed down generationally? That could be an interesting study.

    Best wishes,

    RASDAH

    • June 16, 2022
      Reply

      I’m not sure if I should update or clarify my position, but I believe that self-diagnosis is a very valid first step in finding the support that you need. I might’ve mentioned elsewhere that if you’ve taken the RAADS-R or other tests with reasonable validity and it shows you’re likely on the spectrum, but then a psychiatrist or psychologist tries to tell you that you’re bipolar or schizotypal or have borderline personality disorder without a compelling support for their conclusion, leave and find a different professional. Especially for women and non-white men, the likelihood of a non-ASD diagnosis is astronomically high, often condemning people to a lifetime of wrong medication, ineffective therapy, and poor self-esteem when nothing seems to help.

      I’d say from observation and experience that families that didn’t know they were ASD do tend to build protocols and methods for raising undiagnosed kids. Everyone in my family (siblings and offspring) showed massive early cognitive/academic acumen and dodgy/poor social control. Most of us were reading before the age of 5 (one of my sisters actually got “in trouble” for “lying” about reading in kindergarten until the principal just, you know, asked her to read out loud), and we were doing basic maths and solving puzzles and things like that. That was just how we did things. We each had some weird quirk (one of my sons refused to leave the house without his Batman costume on, one of my sisters wore only a satin chemise/slip as her everyday clothes for years), but it wasn’t until the Batman kid was seen having a full meltdown that a professional stepped in and said, “You know… you might want to look at some autism testing…”

      When I started looking into it and people were describing what it’s like to be autistic, my first response was, “Man, this is bullshit. These people aren’t autistic, me and my family do that all the— … oh.”

      Now, the reason that I say “valid first step” is that it’s really, really easy to find a metric fuck-ton of misinformation about autism “treatment” and autism “cures” from a lot of sources that treat autism as a disorder and a tragedy **cough-cough**fuckautismspeaks**cough-cough**. This goes for “autism parents” who just got a diagnosis for their kid and for the gr’ups like me who didn’t find out until they were **mumble-mumble** years old.

      I am not suggesting that a formal diagnosis is the ONLY valid diagnosis, but I am saying that any diagnosis/identification should be corroborated and contextualized. I know that for many people it’s well-nigh impossible to get access to the assessments and resources needed to get formally identified – again, often compounded by non-male, non-white status because of years of heavily biased research – so there, by necessity, has to be other acceptable ways to identify and manage. There are a lot of social media groups that share anecdotal stories as well as clinical research, and gods know there are dozens of online tests that can explore the edges of one’s nuerodivergency.

      Another big part of the discussion is, if your dad went and got a formal diagnosis, what’s the practical use of it for him? What is the intended result of finding out for certain? In some cases, having a clinical status means a lot of negative things – job loss in some cases, or poor employment opportunities – because if you are clinically diagnosed with a condition that might require ADA accommodations, you are legally required to disclose that when you apply for a job, and you can get fired if you don’t. It can mean positive things, too, though, like getting a quiet office without distractions, preferential work-from-home schedules, and restructured tasking.

      Sometimes, just finding out for certain means being able to let go of a lot of extra baggage. I felt like a complete loser for so much of my life because of my inability to keep a job, maintain a healthy relationship, make decent decisions about basic things, control my temper, and sometimes the inability to just get out of bed even though I didn’t feel depressed at all. (Executive dysfunction from dopamine dysregulation is a bitch.) When I got formally recognized (validated), I found I was able to forgive myself for so much. Everything started to make sense, and I could finally make accommodations for myself to work to my strengths instead of trying to beat my head through all these brick walls that I was never designed to go through anyway.

      So many of us born in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, (and 90s, to be fair, and probably from even before) flew under the radar because the science just wasn’t there yet. We’re still getting caught up, and it’s definitely showing us how deep our roots go.

      <3

  23. Ann Russell
    June 18, 2022
    Reply

    I had to dig far too deep into the inter webs to find this. I was starting to feel INSANE. I am a NT married (soon to be EX) to a man who only got diagnosed this year in his thirties with ASD. It makes ALOT of sense. He was able to mask in the beginning and give me all the attention and affection I could ever want. Then it stopped. Then I begged. Then I started to feel lonely and like I was raising a man child. Intentional or not, abuse is abuse. When I break your arm by accident, does it hurt less? Holidays were awful. He ignored them no matter how direct I was about my expectations, because he could not fathom why something so silly is so important to other people. Crying on my 40th was the final straw for me. He had plenty of tools like therapy and meds and books but was inconsistent. All I found online were articles giving these asshole, neglectful autistic partners a free pass to abuse people. Look up Cassandra Syndrome. It’s the mental and physical illnesses that the NT partner can experience from the behavior of the autistic partner. If autistic people can learn multiple foreign languages and earn PHDs, then surely they can learn not to be assholes when given clear and direct feedback in a kind and supportive way. Thank you for the validation.

  24. Poop Blanket
    September 12, 2022
    Reply

    Refreshing and empowering, I thank you for an honest breakdown of your observations. As much as I wish nobody were an asshole, including myself, this metaphorical splash of water to the face in blog-post form actually brings some hope for managing that disappointment.

    People are people are people… and feeling ashamed for my valid beliefs about my sibling will probably contribute more strife than it prevents. With time spent *Honestly* like this I grow grateful for the circumstances, instead of deeper towards resentment.

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