1) Some people with autism are the nicest, most kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. Other autistic people are dicks. You know, because we’re people.
2) The rest of you are weird. We are completely normal.
3) You definitely know a few autistic people. Maybe you don’t know it, but you do. Maybe they don’t know it either. We’re 1% of the general population, which is higher than it sounds.
4) Autistic people aren’t always similar to one another, for exactly the same reason that non-autistic people aren’t either.
5) 81% of us aren’t in full-time employment. Personally I’ve spent less than two years of my life being one of the 19%.
6) If you have it mildly, you’re at the awkward midpoint of being ‘normal enough’ for everyone to expect the same from you as everyone else, but ‘autistic enough’ to not always reach those expectations.
7) The above means that a LOT of things are Your Fault. They’re not actually your fault, but they are definitely Your Fault.
9) If you don’t notice that a girl is interested in you, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.
8) If someone drops an extremely subtle hint and it goes over your head, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.
10) If you ask people whether they want the last potato and everyone says ‘no, that’s fine’, it’s Your Fault if you take it. You should have read them correctly and interpreted their ‘no’ as a ‘yes’. Because that’s what normal people do, apparently.
12) 70% of people on the autism spectrum have something else as well (ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, for example). Special needs are often a bit of a Venn diagram.
13) Telling others about your autism is difficult. Sometimes because they don’t know what autism is (or have clichéd ideas), sometimes because they don’t know you very well so they’ll see you as a walking syndrome, and sometimes because you’re just bloody nervous about talking about it.
14) The correct category for me is ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ rather than ‘mild autism’. But it’s difficult telling people you have Asperger’s because it ends with the word ‘syndrome’. People are wary of syndromes. I don’t like using the phrase ‘social learning disorder’ either, because it ends with the word ‘disorder’.
15) So if you’re not going to tell people about your autism, the only way not to be seen as awkward or having poor interpersonal skills is to pretend to be like everyone else. And when you fail because that’s not how your brain works, it’s Your Fault.
16) Hints don’t work. Just bloody tell us. (Seriously, on my first ever date the girl wanted me to pay for her lunch, so instead of just asking me honestly she hinted that she didn’t have enough money for food and for the bus. I just smiled and said “don’t worry, cheesy chips are only £1.75!” She did not appreciate it, even though it was a valid response to what she had said.)
17) If I do things at my own pace and use my own methods, I invariably succeed. If I go at the pace others tell to go or use someone else’s methods, I can crash and burn rather horribly. Guess whose fault it is when I do?
18) Our spoken grammar is not always up to scratch. I slur my words, and say them in the wrong order when I’m nervous. My last job interview (at a library) failed at the very first sentence when I started with “I think I’m fit for this writer because I’m an aspiring… oh, wait, let me start again.”
19) Eye contact is overrated. People say I act unnatural when I talk to them, but to me it’s unnatural to stare right into someone’s eyeballs just because everyone else is doing it.
20) If we’re taking a long time to phrase something correctly, then bloody let us finish. Sometimes it takes us a while.