(Note: since writing this article I’ve realized I’m nonbinary not a dude so this kinda causes a bit of dysphoria but not changing words because this is still happening too much)
“How can I make it more clear that we could all do so much more”
(This topic has been somewhat covered here focused on within the autistic community, but as a really terrible thing is happening to a dear wonderful friend relating to this narrative I’m writing a piece myself. I’m not naming names but if you know who this is and want evidence I can provide it.)
I’m taking a break from my usual political blogging on The Outcast Post to address a narrative that exists about autistic men like myself which is toxic, stigmatizing, infantilizing, enabling, and quite frankly insulting.
It’s the narrative that we are slaves to our desires, can’t know right from wrong and thus should be excused from any terrible action because we don’t know any better. It’s really bad and is what has provided an excuse for an autistic guy who has been tormenting a dear sweet wonderful friend of mine for a year, spreading revenge porn and lies, targeting her through alts, blackmailing and emailing her, and other terrible stuff…and all along both he and his defenders have been saying that he’s autistic as if that somehow excuses anything (he also forced an eighteen year old to call him attractive in a chat I was in…he’s terrible).
Understandably the fact that people are using a societal lie about my neurology to justify and excuse someone who I actually know and have seen his actions personally tormenting a friend of mine is…rather personal.
Honestly, the song quote conveys my frustration with this quite well, because there are a lot of us autistic guys who aren’t doing this so it should be fairly obvious that it’s not true, that we can be better, but people still keep enabling this and letting this happen and now it’s led to this hell. In this specific case an autistic friend and myself who both know him were told by someone else that they disagree and…frankly, when autistics are telling you that you are wrong about their lived experience (combined over 50 years between the two of us, also we’ve been involved with this case since September and he was in my autistic-only Autistics Against Anti-Vaxxers (AAA-V) for a while…to any defenders reading this, we know him better), you should listen in general, we know what being autistic is like much more than you do because…we’re autistic.
The problems with this narrative are many.
First, autistic adults are well…adults. Whatever our strengths and weaknesses, this narrative treats all of us like we are still kids, incapable of growing up and knowing that some things are bad to do. When you say that we can’t help doing anything wrong because we’re autistic you’re saying that we never developed logic or a moral compass, considering us perpetual children…and that’s insulting as all hell. We are developed human beings, we may make mistakes that others might not make but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn.
But the thing about mistakes is that you don’t know what you’re doing is wrong. If you are told that you’re wrong in something, someone clearly tells you that you’re doing something messed up, you have choices: you can learn from it and try to do better (we might slip occasionally), or you can defend your actions and not change what you’re doing. After you are told something is wrong there is no excuse to keep deliberately doing it and not try to change your actions, especially when you’re told that you are hurting people. Autism is about not getting social cues or rules automatically but when we are told that they exist, especially told over and over by multiple people like this person has, it’s up to us to not break the rules again. Beyond that, a lot of the stuff that he’s done is made obviously wrong by the internet, TV, movies, things that we are bombarded with being bad things that you shouldn’t do. My old school for autistics in Santa Rosa, Anova, had social thinking classes and they actually showed us a comedy movie where people made a lot of ridiculous mistakes and we saw the consequences, saw they were wrong…society and media would have already showed that a lot of this stuff is so messed up that he did know better before he was told by the person he did it to told him he hurt her.
The result of this narrative is made fairly obvious by current events. Because not only does it stigmatize those of us who do choose to be better, it enables monsters to keep doing whatever harm they’re causing. When people should be as a whole telling him his behaviors are wrong they are supporting him or letting it go unchecked. By telling him and him acting like he doesn’t know any better people aren’t doing anything when he’s hurting my friends.
Every time I see people excuse him because of the neurology we both share or let him go because they think he might not know any better it makes me more and more enraged because they are enabling an abuser to keep hurting people who don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter your good intentions if this is the impact. Doing so is harmful in every way possible and it’s killing me to see my friend continue to be hurt while people excuse the person causing the suffering because he’s autistic like I am. If we’re doing something wrong that’s hurting , tell us clearly so we know, and then if we don’t care that’s on us and your defense or passiveness is causing harm. Maybe if people had told him this stuff and made it abundantly clear to him that behavior like this was wrong before he ever encountered my friend this would never have happened but now it is and people are still enabling him to continue.