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