Monday, January 3, 2011

Wei wu wei and autistic pride

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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