UNMASKED: Snippets & notes from a lifetime collection of journals (pre-diagnosis).
Advocating for autistic acceptance.
June 19, 1994
I need someone who can provide me with evidence that wonderful [people] exist. I don’t have to agree with everything they do, but they could be supporting, nonjudgmental, aware themselves. I appreciate variety: although I don’t certainly agree with everything [suitemates] do, it doesn’t mean I don’t love them! But I’m not being fair – I can admit that perhaps my expectations with [people] may be unattainable! No, no, no! ATTAINABLE – but higher. Could it be because my relationships with [them] thus far has been less than … perfect?
TW: references to animal euthanasia
In high school, I shared a different viewpoint when I presented my paper suggesting we use euthanized cats and dogs from the Humane Society for dissection instead of frogs raised specifically for that purpose.
My logic was that those cats and dogs were going to be euthanized regardless (no-kill shelters were more myth than reality at that time). Why kill more animals?
Plus cats and dogs are biologically more similar to us than frogs (mammals vs amphibians). I actually thought that would help my case. Turned out the mammal thing made my suggestion even more appalling to my classmates.
They literally gasped and then booed me. I just wanted as few animals to die as possible but I didn’t take into consideration the cultural views on pets vs “others”. I was even ostracized for protesting dissection and suggesting computer simulation as a better alternative.
I felt very unsupported and judged by both teachers and students. Misunderstood as cold and uncaring when I was trying to humanely problem-solve. It didn’t make sense to me then and still doesn’t. Guess my expectations were too high. 🤷
It is ironic that autistic people are pathologized as being rigid, black and white thinkers when in fact, so many of us accept others as they are and don’t get the same courtesy in return. We accept NT expectations because we have to in order to survive at school, work, in relationships. But we are ostracized and isolated for our nonconforming ND ways.
What’s especially sad about this entry is how much I hold myself responsible for NT hypocrisy. I value different perspectives and want others to value mine. When I am instead abandoned, criticized, dismissed for my viewpoint, I blame myself for having high expectations.
It has taken me years to believe that I, too, deserve the loyal, supportive, and openminded friendship I offer. Autistic people should not be required to agree by default or be silenced in order to maintain relationships with others.