Saturday, September 4, 2010

So you're telling me you don't have autism?

So you're telling me you don't have autism? Seriously? Oh wow. Oh God. You are really neurotypical? Gosh, I'm so sorry. Are you sure, though? Because you look completely normal to me. I mean you are the last person I would have suspected of not being autistic.

I really admire you, you know. Not having autism must be so tough. My friend's son was diagnosed with not having autism and she was heartbroken. She cried for three days. What do you mean why? Of course, you seem completely normal but have you seen those neurotypical people they show on TV? (In a dramatic whisper.) They are all freaky and weird and they keep banging their heads against the wall. Well, you are right, of course, anybody would bang their head against the wall if their mother cried for 3 days because they are the way they are, but still . . . It's tragic for a parent to realize their child will never be happy, or have a career, or get married. Yes, it's true, you seem pretty happy, and your career is great, and you even have a husband.

By the way, does he know that you are . . . well, you know . . . not autistic? He does? Wow, I admire him so much. It must be so tough for him to live with a neurotypical person. You are always there, always demanding attention, always getting into his personal space, getting upset if he wants to be silent, or if he prefers to be alone. Every time he comes home you keep asking him where he's been, what he's done, who he talked to. And when he spends time engrossed in his hobby, you feel abandoned, neglected and lonely. Poor guy, he must really love you to put up with this.

And since we are talking about loneliness, you must feel lonely a lot. I mean if the phone doesn't ring even once during a weekend, you, non-autistics, always get so miserable, don't you? You are incapable of staying completely alone for a week and loving it, like we, the autistics, can. You always have to be with people, talking to them, getting attention. And it matters so much to you what people think. Even now I can see you are getting upset because of what I'm saying. You should learn to be more like us, you know. There must be some behavioral techniques that will help you care less about other people's opinions. Have you tried medication? What do you mean there is no medication for neurotypicality? That's a crying shame! This is such a serious disease. I heard on television that it's a national epidemic. More and more people are getting diagnosed as non-autistics. It's a public health crisis, for Pete's sake, and you tell me they still haven't developed any drugs to help you deal with it? Are you at least getting any disability payments? Of course, you are disabled, don't be silly. Imagine all the things that the autistics do so easily and you can't ever hope to learn. We can absorb and process huge chunks of information, sort them in our brains, see logical connections between all facts that are presented to us. We pride ourselves on our strong reasoning skills, on our capacity to concentrate on what we do in a way a poor neurotypical cannot even imagine. I don't even have to prepare my classes because I see all the information I need in my mind. And I can see it in 3-D and in color. This is something that your poor, abnormal brain can't do.

Oh now, here you go, getting all upset. You neurotypicals are so emotional. You have to realize that you live in an autistic world. You belong to a minority, so you need to learn to fit in. Nobody likes a person who is always getting emotionally attached so easily. I'm sure you even remember the name of that guy who cheated on you all those years ago and dumped you for your best friend. If you were normal, like me, you would have gotten over that in a couple of days, at most, and wouldn't even recognize his face when you saw him on the street.

Actually, now I think about it, I should have suspected long ago that you have this neurotypical sickness. You have this annoying habit of always remembering everybody's name, birthday, phone number, silly things like that. Of course, you don't have any engrossing interest or hobby, you don't accumulate huge chunks of information on the subject that inerests you, so you must have a lot of free space in your brain. Don't get all huffy on me. Unlike you, the neurotypicals, the normal autistic people are always brutally honest. We don't care about silly social conventions enough to lie and pretend. I'm sorry for you because you don't know what it feels like to be free from all these rules, expectations, and conventions.

Well, I'm really glad you shared it with me. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell anybody. What do you mean you don't care if people know? Of course, you do. Not everybody is as tolerant and understanding as I am.

This post is based on my conversations with people I told I am autistic and their reactions. I wrote it in an imitation of Dorothy Parker, a writer I admire a lot, so please take it with a sense of humor.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

NOT FUNNY!!!! You are being offensive to people for no reason. Stupid post.

Clarissa said...

I know a sense of humor is a rare commodity but you've got to lighten up, people. Seriously.

Richard said...

A pretty fair imitation of Dorothy Parker whose New Yorker reviews were always interesting if also cynical and sharp edged. However, you must remember that since the U.S. has been declared an Irony Free Zone Parker’s style, like H.L. Mencken’s is no longer acceptable. Unless humor is sophomoric or scatological it is usually not understood and often resented.

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Richard. I knew I could count on intelligent readers like you to get the point and maybe even enjoy the post. :-)

profacero said...

This is funny!

It's true, more people should be autistic, especially professors, as it seems to help with life in these Bible Belt small towns quite a lot.

Why: because if you are autistic, then you:

a) can handle not talking to anybody (I don't talk to anybody either, but it is because I don't want to hear about the Raputure and how Obama is the Antichrist; however, not talking to anybody makes me suffer);

b) are less affected by what people think (although it apparently is still irritating to have them preach at you about autism).

The problem I have is, I'm extroverted but private. That is why I like large cities: you can always see people and interact, but you can also hide quite easily.
In small towns it is the opposite:
people are watching you and have expectations of you, but there aren't many of them -- my street is totally empty now, for instance.

Flutterby said...

Very nice. A standing ovation to you, madam!

Clarissa said...

Thank you, guys! I appreciate the positive feedback.

Brennan said...

Hi, I'm here via feministe. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this. It's cutting and insightful and definitely makes your point while still being hilarious. Kudos.

Lindsay Beyerstein said...

Nicely done. I especially liked the part about medication for neurotypical obsessive thinking about what other people think. I could use some of that.

Crissa said...

I remember when I wouldn't be bothered by not talking to anyone for a week. I miss those times.

However, lately, I'm starting to think it's because I need my novelty senses triggered. People say the most random things sometimes.

KT said...

I love it.

KT said...

One more reason why I love it is how autism (or non-autism) can be substituted for many other things including race, religion, sexual orientation among others. Good work. You should write more :)

Anna said...

For some reason I always feel bad when things like this make me laugh, and yet they are so so true. The next time someone asks how Don & I have sex when he's (whispers) "wheelchair bound", I may ask them how in heck they have sex with someone who doesn't have a sexy sexy wheelchair of awesome. :)

eric said...

Thanks! Describes (in ironic fashion) my childhood and post-childhood relationships to a tee. Back to my engrossing hobby...

Clarissa said...

Over 1200 people came to read this post already. I'm happy that this issue is attracting so much attention.

Queenjulie said...

Absolute genius. How have I never discovered your blog before? This is hilarious, and it should be published in every major newspaper. :)

Sandy said...

I agree that the first comment was a bit histrionic, but does someone really need to agree with you to be considered intelligent? Yikes. I'm a pretty intelligent person and while I get the point you're trying to get across, I find this post irritates me. Rudeness does not cancel out rudeness.

Anonymous said...

Rudeness may not cancel out rudeness, but being able to laugh when people have been rude to you for years and years? Awesome.

Clarissa said...

This isn't about agreeing, it's about having a sense of humor. The post is supposed to be funny. Granted, not everybody shares my sense of humor but that doesn't cancel the humorous intention of the post.

Pretty much everything in the post was actually said to me by non-autistic people, so any rudeness here isn't mine.

Meredith said...

As an NT, I AM SO OFFENDED!!! You know what, gosh, you need to just lighten up about this whole autism thing. Don't you know that you're giving non-NT people a bad name by being so mean about it??!!?!

I don't have autism, but I do have another invisible brain issue that people react to in a very similar way, and this rings so true. PS, I SHOULDN'T HAVE BABIES BECAUSE I COULD PASS IT ON AND THAT WOULD BE HORRIBLE BECAUSE NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE THE WAY I DO.

(This post is hilarious. I'm linking to it on my Twitter.)

Clarissa said...

I'm VERY glad that there are more people with a sense of humor than without. :-)

Kassiane said...

Ohmigod. I <3 this.

codeman38 said...

As someone on the autism spectrum who often finds NTs perplexing... I love this post. I only wish I had written it. ^_^

Ali said...

I will be linking to this and quoting it liberally, because it is awesome.

Oh, and Meredith, if you see this: if you have any sort of divergent brain, you're not NT! Autism is just one of the many ways one can be neurodivergent. Welcome to the club!

Clarissa said...

Thank you, guys!

Byrde said...

I'm here because FWD linked to you today and thank God they did.
Fabulous! Great writing. Great perspective. Can you make it longer?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this and linking it on Feministe! I've been treated for OCD and anxiety for only three years now, but I always felt like there was more to it that those simple names. I took the linked quiz on your website and have been reading more about Asperger's, and I think I should ask my doctor about it the next time I go in for counseling. Hopefully knowing another aspect of myself will help these linked issues out.

Clarissa said...

"Great writing. Great perspective. Can you make it longer?"

-Thank you, Byrde! One of the characteristics of Asperger's (at least, in my case) is that one doesn't know when to stop and keeps belaboring the point long after everybody is sick and tired of hearing. It's good to know that I didn't do that here.

Make Part II of this post should appear in the future. Thankfully, my conversations with NT people make finding new material easy enough. :-)

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

This is brilliant satire! I really needed the laugh. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

This upset me more than a little because a lot of those things apply to me... I suppose you could say that they apply to me more than average neurotypical people.

My mental health difficulties make it very hard for me to be own for any real length of time, and puts me at a lot of time... it effects my concentration, and makes me obsess myself anxious over social conventions and getting it right, because I care too much about what people think. I'm scared sick of being clingy and attention seeking and hated for it.

I know it sucks for autistic people, but there are other people for whom these things are more than 'stereotypes exaggerated for comic effect'.

I don't know if you'd consider me to be neurotypical or not, but this is the sort of social stigma that I *do* get.

lownote said...

Was directed here by a friend, I am just thanking you for writing it and the off to thank her for sending me :)

Mme_Psychosis said...

The important thing that I wish "normal" (i.e. autistic) people would remember about us NTs is that neurotypicality is a broad spectrum! We're not all like those poor drivelling creatures you see on reality television, singing along with American Idol, babbling about their feelings and playing convoluted mind games with their partners. Many of us are able to function independently of friends and lovers and think rationally and analytically about the world, just like you. Please don't be fooled by the sensationalist and exploitative depictions of us in the mass media; NTs have made magnificent contributions to art and science throughout history, and not just because we had lots of spare time while waiting for that guy from the party to call, I'm sure he liked me, he seemed really interested so why hasn't he called, oh god he probably thinks I'm too fat or maybe it's because I said that thing and now he thinks I'm weird....

Autistic Dad said...

Brilliant stuff! Like all good satire, it holds up a mirror to received attitudes. If people are offended by your post, it's probably because they don't like what they see in that mirror. (sorry for the very humourless analysis).

Pashupati said...

Well, NTs also laugh at me when I try to explain my feelings.
Then, there are some autistics peoples who acts like NTs acts when you acts autistic when you say or act like what they think is an NT. (on Internet, I don't know any IRL)
Is that a pastiche of a particular Dorothy Parker writing or something? (I really like her works but I can't find lot of things in France)
"I'm sure you even remember the name of that guy who cheated on you all those years ago and dumped you for your best friend."
I took it as she talked to me and tried to remember, then I thought that, oh shit, and then I realised.
Good night.

Clarissa said...

Welcome to the blog, Pashupati!

Dorothy Parker wrote several short stories in a similar form of an ironic monologue. Of course, she never wrote about autism. But the general mannaer of writing I adopted here is hers.

Karen said...

I enjoyed this, Clarissa. And think the idea that every person/child should be the same and fit into a box is ridiculous. Even though I am an unemployed stay at home mom (I read your posts on homemakers/full-time mothers like myself) I do like reading someone else's opinions/thoughts even if they are different than my own. Maybe especially because they are... Keep up the good work!