Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Fool On the Hill

Last night, I watched a movie entitled Dinner for Schmucks. This post is not about that movie, though, but the song that was playing in the beginning.

This song struck me because of how well it described me. In fact, it didn't just describe me exceptionally well, it seemed to describe Chuang Tzu perfectly.

What must Hui Tzu have thought of Chuang Tzu, to be so dismissive of a post with such honor and respect as Prime Minister of Liang? It seems that people everywhere considered Chuang Tzu a fool. It does not matter, though. He recognizes the wisdom within him, so their thoughts on the matter prove themselves the fools.

I've talked about how lucky I was to be able to develop enough confidence in myself that I could dismiss the things people would say about me. A lot of autistics don't get around to developing this confidence before the dozens of people that insist that they're somehow wrong finally get to them. I learned long ago that I have a unique way of viewing the world, and I think that's largely due to the fact that I am autistic.

And yet, when I tell people my view of the world, they are dismissive of it. It's not how they see the world, and so it must be wrong. I've often said that, in the land of the blind, a one eyed woman would be locked up in a mental institution.

There are people out there that see the wisdom in the way I (and other autistics) see the world, but the vast majority do not. It is sad, but you must understand that that does not make you a fool. Wise men are often called fools. Obviously, that doesn't make them so.

Don't let the words of foolish people affect you so. Do not blind yourself to the eyes in your head that see the world spinning around merely because of the words of others.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where's the pride?

I was reading a topic on WrongPlanet. It claimed that autism is a disability because autistics are completely incapable of finding love.

First of all, I'd like to point out that, from my way of thinking, autism, by itself, is not a disability.

More importantly, though, I feel that this post shows how autistics think of their autism. I've said before that I believe one source of pride in my autism is that I wasn't told for 20 years that everything I am is wrong. That applies to interpersonal interactions as well, though.

Friends, coworkers, family, and significant others (or lack thereof) can all affect how a person thinks of being autistic. In my experience, autistics get along very well with other autistics. If there are other autistics, or neurotypicals that don't dismiss autistics, around an autistic, then they won't consider themselves wrong. Naturally, a negative reaction to autistics will exacerbate the lack of a positive reaction.

For me, I had enough confidence in myself that the lack of many friends or significant others going through school was not an issue for me.

But you must let go of the past and peoples' ignorance. If you never had the chance before to interact with other autistics or autistic-accepting neurotypicals, then now is the chance to change that. There are autistics around you, and you will know them when you see them. Autistics are rare, but when you find one that you can connect with, it will be worth it.

Remember, though we are in the minority, we are not alone, and being part of a minority does not make us wrong.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Golden Rule

I've said before - many times - that I would never want to be neurotypical. There are obviously many autistics that don't want to be neurotypical, either. Of course, there are plenty of neurotypicals that would never want to be autistic, even knowing all I know. I've said before that I believe that one of the reasons I wouldn't want to be neurotypical, or even be able to emulate a neurotypical, is because of how I was raised.

But there's another reason. I am not you, whoever you are. You look at me and think, "If I was like that, I would want someone to come and make me more like how I am now." The problem with this is that you are not like that. That reasoning only works for you. Do not do unto me as you would have others do unto you. The reasoning behind "The Golden Rule" is flawed. For more on this, consider Bob the Masochist.

Every person you meet has different wants and different needs. I am not you; my needs do not match yours. You may love who you are and wish to be no one else. I mean no offense, but I don't wish to be you. I wish to be me. I have no want to be anything else. Do not try to "cure" me. There is nothing to be cured.

Always beware of what you believe others want. It may be what you want.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I was reading an article about how autistic pride is based on laziness. See, the logic behind this is that the reason why autistics don't want to learn social skills is because it's hard.

Funny story: I'm not the most athletically adept person. Am I supposed to work on trying to become a professional basketball player?

When a neurotypical person isn't that good at mathematics, for example, we don't try and put the neurotypical in calculus classes. We teach them enough to get by (for some reason, we don't have them take Consumer Economics, which would probably be a lot more beneficial than Geometry) and then focus on their strengths. There's a reason why Time and Newsweek are considered snobbish when they write their articles at a tenth grade level: We don't try and push people to become masters of things they have very little ability with. For the record? I was reading at a college level the first time I was tested (in the 9th grade). It's not difficult to read at that level, but Time and Newsweek wouldn't be able to sell many magazines if they wrote at that level.

I have about enough social skills to get by in my everyday life. I can go to the store, talk to some close friends of mine, and things along those lines. I don't need to have extraordinary social skills. I will never be a salesperson or a customer service representative. I will likely never be a politician. I am fine with this. Instead, I focus my effort on my stengths, which is what every neurotypical is allowed to do. Autistics, on the other hand, are not allowed to focus on our strengths. We instead must fight the way we naturally are, putting so much effort in our social skills that, if redirected to our strengths, would allow us to be in the top of whatever field we choose.

Wei wu wei: Ideal inaction, action without effort. I could spend eight hours a day every day for the next several years slowly working my social skills to the average of a neurotypical. Instead, I decided to focus on other fields. If I had spend the past several years focusing on social skills, I wouldn't be able to play poker, write, bake, and all the other things I've been able to do. I wouldn't have any sort of useful skills other than my ability to make change. I'd be destined to working at a fast food chain as a cashier for the rest of my life. Instead, I can write, and bake, and play poker. I can contribute to society in a way other than asking if you'd like fries with your burger.

I put effort in my strengths, because it's much more beneficial, as a time:benefit ratio, than focusing on improving my social skills. I'm not a people person, and I have no issue with that. I'm not constantly making myself miserable to meet an impossible goal. Ideal inaction in action. Just like the person that has difficulty reading above a 9th grade level, I don't try and become a master of social skills.

Autistics are not special. We have strengths and weaknesses. What's special is how we are treated. Instead of being allowed to focus on our strengths, we are pushed to focus on our weaknesses. Why can't we be allowed to practice wei wu wei along with the neurotypicals?

Edit: As far as the argument that humans are social creatures and social skills are therefore important: Language is important, too. It's a social function (that's why incredibly smart octopi have absolutely no language, but chickens have a rudimentary language). And we still have people in their twenties and thirties who still think that "alot" is a word. There's not much issue with that. We're not forcing those people to take specialized classes for eight hours a day every day so they know to put a space between the "a" and the "lot."


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