Living on the Wrong Planet
Often people with autism will feel completely out of place in society. Despite the fact that more and more people are being diagnosed as autistic, trying to go through life in a majority neuro-typical world can feel almost like an impossible task for people with autism.
There is a very simple way to explain to neuro-typical people how it feels – simply switch it around. Imagine everybody you are dealing with on a day-to-day basis is autistic; the legal and social rules of your life are set, and enforced by people with autism. Imagine that every relationship with people that you try to make is with somebody who has autism. You might not understand large parts of their behaviour, and they definitely won’t understand many of the things you say and do. This is how autistic people feel on a day-to-day basis; living in a world created, and mostly run, by neuro-typical people.
I don’t want this to be some kind of “Poor me, I have autism” article. This article is simply trying to explain the feelings a lot of autistic people live with. Autistic people grow up with a set of feelings and beliefs; a mindset, a view of the world and themselves, that simply isn’t shared by a lot of people they know — even those closest to them for much of the time. Lots of autistic people are told that the way they think and feel is wrong. Neuro-typical people are often told that it is good to be different, and stand out from the crowd; that it is good to have their own thoughts, and not just conform to what society wants. This might be true, but it is incredibly difficult when society might view an autistic person as rude or violent for behaving in a certain way.
People will make judgements for everything, however trivial — e.g. you don’t laugh at somebody`s joke because it`s not funny, and they take a dislike to you. It`s not like it’s your fault that they can`t tell a funny joke, but many neuro-typical people are so insecure that they would rather you laughed, and lied to their face, and allow them to carry on deluding themselves that they are something they are not. Most autistic people don’t need to do this. We know what we are. We might not always be happy with it, and some of us might even hate it but, by and large, we don’t try and deny it. Even if some people are able to temper their autistic traits a bit to try to get by in society, they generally don’t deny it to themselves, or to those closest to them. And in a way I think this is where a lot of the problems come from; insecure neuro-typical people looking at somebody who is autistic, and has a perfect knowledge of who they are, and not understanding how somebody can be comfortable with the fact that they don’t like to socialise, or that they don’t bother to conform to social norms. Now I don’t want to generalise — there will be autistic people who aren’t comfortable with who they are, and there will be neuro-typical people who are comfortable with themselves. Nor do I want to turn this into some kind of attack on neuro-typical people — it’s nothing to do with that. All I am trying to say is that it can be difficult going through life when you are told that the way you think, and the way you feel, is wrong. Even if you have complete confidence in yourself, the fact that everybody else thinks you have confidence in something that isn’t right can be a difficult thing to deal with.
The phrase `living on the wrong planet` is often used by people with autism to describe how they feel about their place in the world. Everything is set up to make life easier for neuro-typical people, which inadvertently makes it more difficult for people with autism. Although some people with autism will be able to cope, and find their way to get by in the world, no autistic person ever feels a hundred percent comfortable throughout their life. It`s also worth neuro-typical people remembering quite how alien their own behaviour might be to people with autism. Despite having said all this, there is no reason why someone with autism can`t have a good and successful life, and find a way to get by in a world that mostly caters for neuro-typical people.
My name is Paddy-Joe Moran. I am a 19-year-old autistic author of two books, and co-founder of autism advice service ASK-PERGERS?If you need any more help or advice about Asperger’s, or simply want to talk about it check out my free help and advice service, ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS?ref=hl
Also to read more from me go to my blog @ http://askpergers.wordpress.com/
And have a look at my books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but I did co-write them; trust me on that!). http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843106227
What a brilliant piece. You captured the dilemma faced by us perfectly.
l have rarely thought l am on the ‘wrong’ planet…
The horrible truth is that l am not.
Fantasizing and romanticizing your other-worldly existence within a non existent reality exponentially compounds your initial problem. It is prophylactic sublimation at best, and disassociative psychological fragmentation at its worst.
Rather than the ‘wrong’ planet characterization, l prefer, and have long utilized, the concept…
“of being high above the Earth, where l cannot be heard…”
This characterization references where l am, how l feel, what l must endure, the difficulties that l have, of how very removed l am, the scope of my loneliness and my frustration, my isolation and my future prospects… this is scope and degree and pervasion and inevitability.
This is me, they are my, l am them. Not they, those, or of them.
But around them, for them, through them.
Together they are one…
And l am allowed my away from them many.
Not a mistake, a wrong turn, a way out and back, a Hollywood happy ending, a neat explanation, an uncomfortable mitigation, a migration from, a turning away… or any kind of elsewhere other whatsoever.
This is here, and l am now.
Where l belong.
Me and them, we are the same.
We are one, but within their one, l live my me and my vary many.
Disabled and disordered relative to us
They find me high away and to the siden,
Cold and wasten, well astray,
Where as and of them
l have myself me exhausted taken away,
And unnoticed and aside l meanwhile did my self me nearby lay.
Around and amongst, within and in their midsts,
Everywhere yet now here, here now but gone after then,
As absence, as aberration,
As an acceptable alliteration…
Come of and from them there before,
Rest now high here above them and their Earth,
Only very rarely having to be ever seen again as once,
And never having had not been hated there not seen after never heard.
I am here,
Impossible to hear,
Where l have always been
And will must always stay
I am not in the wrong place or on the wrong planet.
Everything is exactly as it should be.
It is deliciously excruciating, and
I thank God that it is, and that it is as they so…
Through their multitude l have emerged one,
And by my only one they have come to know our many of my many varys.
Silent there high above our Earth invisible to the sum,
Yet swollen there o’erbrimming with fullness and wholeness,
Nourished by the sole mate heavenly earthen Sun.
I’m not upon their planet…
This is here. I am now.
They exist in my many worlds,
Within my many ones,
I have no need of their why,
Their where’s, or their what-nows.
For l am there, high above their Earth
I am 44 years old and I have been told since the age of 8 that something was wronge with me. That I am tedious for asking someone to repeat “their joke” because I took it literally, because I get up every morning and ask where are my keys. There is so much more I could say that puts me on a different planet but I work full time running a museum working extra just so I can achieve the same level as my collleagues. I spend hours drawing very detailed artwork but get agitated when dinner is over and I can’t wait to get moving. I try and work to the things I can do, focusing on the benefits of being who I am. It takes effort and a lot of people pass through my life who have given up on me. But I won’t stop being me. I like me.
I so agree. I have always felt out of place…in my family and the world. I found out almost two years ago am aspie…in my fifties! finally accepting it…mostly…along with processing problems I didnt know I had…and other diagnoses I learned later in life. it explains so so much! and I can forgive myself and family for our mistakes…because we didnt know. sometimes I wish life could be easier but I cant change who I am…just try to do better.
Have felt like I was from another planet. From early childhood ..constantly being told what to say ,how to fit in socialise ..night mare. Stuff for a child. I followed the rules always tell the truth…lol neuro-typicals don’t like the truth…your article is great, we should rule the world be far better under our guidance…
Wow! Good article. Nice articulation of the “Wrong Planet” aspect of our lives. I am 53 years old and have only recently come to terms with not fitting in. Staying at a job for a long period of time was difficult. Other than the military I have not been able to cope for more than 3 years. My current job is POS field service .I have been at this job over 5 years, it suits my personality due to the limited amount of exposure to clients. Exposure rarely goes over 30 minutes before moving on to the next site.
Very good job.
Ok with this article. Living on the wrong planet I can identify with. Asperger’s is no fun when people want ‘hard skills’ with ‘soft skills’. Job profiles with ‘must communicate with peers well’ tucked in as a requirement may as well read ‘no aspies or autistic people here please.’. Very sad, as often the skills in logic and focus and dogged determination are exactly what the job requires (try being a support analyst programmer with out those skills … not easy!). People not wanting a conversation when they greet you but expect the verbal and emotional game of tennis (strictly one set game only – i.e. short and without commitment) as a preamble to the request or work related part of their communication really annoy me. This, along with a lack of focus and logic, I found very frustrating. It cost me my health and my job.
What would be nice all round is a bit more tolerance and a few less assumptions from both the autistic and aspergic communities as well as the majority nuro-typicals. Because I’m not grinning my face off or making eye-contact with you when you speak to me does not mean I don’t like you or I’m not interested. I still have to interact with nuro-typicals in all sorts of functions and roles each day. Sometimes I get it wrong; sometimes they get me really wrong! Either way, it’s awkward. I’m very tempted to make a big sign or placard saying “Hey! Give me a break! I’m human too!”!
Till then, I’ll still feel, in many situations, like I’m Ogg from Zogg, the little (?) green man from somewhere else other than here …
I enjoy reading everything you put on the website. Ive done alot of reasearch and never do I find as much info, insite, and people I can relate to as i find here on your website. I have been searching for Eckhart Tolle’s Being here in the now. I simply cannot find it. Ive checked the libraries in my area, bookstores, and online books. Any other suggestions ?
I enjoyed reading all of the above. Imagine living here 73 years and finally coming home to a diagnosis of borderline Aspie. Quite a relief to find I belong somewhere. It really is ok to be unique, a one-off misfit if you enjoy your own company which I do, but when I was young I used to practice being like others in order to fit in. At 50 I decided to confess to somebody that I am an Alien because it had dawned on me that I really am one after reading the factual book Aliens Among Us by Ruth Montgomery. I told a Homoeopath. He said “Oh we have a remedy for people who think they’re from another planet.” I felt let down and back to belonging nowhere. Now I’m fine it’s all OK. I believe that I chose all of this, chose those parents, have made the most and best of my life and have helped a lot of people as an EFT Therapist. The most help I’ve had personally, was from joining the Bruno Groening Circle of Friends when I was 69. Sending Love, Maria