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He has a job, usually, and a place to live, maybe even some nerdy friends, but we are supposed to sympathize with his difficulties solely because he “can’t get a date.” While Dani and I have been talking about this stuff, it’s seemed clear to both of us that the narratives of “normalization” and “development” that we encounter so often in autism discourse are also narratives of gender and sex, often in the most absurdly stereotypical ways.
We see how these books present dating as something autistic men must go through as a natural step in life–a guy has to go on dates in order to find a woman who will marry him.
When you have lived, for so many years, according to lists of behaviors, rules, and skills that you’ve been told you must do in order to deserve safety, sustenance, love, and self-determination, it sometimes is easier to feel safe (for a moment, for a day, maybe).
But these lists of “rules” are always coupled with the–conscious or subconscious–knowledge that the only reason people had to tell you these rules in the first place is because you suck at following them.
Likewise if you are a student or professional wanting to learn more about the disorder, then this will give a sufficient introduction.
Tony Atwood is a practising clinical psychologist and has worked with over 2000 individuals of all ages with Asperger’s syndrome.
More than anything you want people to understand how you think and how you perceive the world.
But not only do you go about this in a completely different way to your common ‘neurotypical’ folk, but also one of the symptoms of having the disorder may mean you find it difficult to express your thoughts and feelings and put yourself in others shoes.
There is no special set of rules that you can follow that will keep people with power from hurting you. To discover that no matter how “good” you are, no matter how well you follow the rules, your compliance will not always protect you.
It may seem like you spend your whole life trying to understand how everyone else works and how to conform, and no one seems to give a damn about how you work, or try to adapt to help you.
I have found great relief in reading up a lot on the disorder myself, finally there were words explaining my world.
So when I was considering doing this post (I’d collected the images of E-books a few months ago, I think) for reals, I asked Dani if she’d wanna do a back-and-forth kind of post conversation on the topic, and she was down.
I know that I benefit from having some kind of dialogue with another person while thinking, and I tend to get stressed about whether or not I’m “including everything” when writing, so this should be fun and also helpful for me.
When you teach boys and young men (autistic or otherwise) that anyone who fails to accommodate their needs is a bad person, and then turn around and teach girls and women (autistic or otherwise) that they aren’t allowed to have needs, you are helping make sure that we will continue to live in a world where women are constantly blamed for their own sexual assault, and where men are trained to be so worried about their masculinity that they are unable to admit that they have hurt others, or that others hurt them.