Okay, I’m starting with a warning to all you neurotypical folks: this post may be a little rough for you to read. In fact, I’m probably going to come off as angry. But one of the things I try to do here is paint a picture of what it’s like to be neurodivergent in a neurotypical world. Anxiety, frustration, and yes, anger, are a big part of that picture. Now, you probably gathered all this from the title, but I figure a gentle admonition can’t hurt. So, consider yourself warned. If something you read here causes your panties to bunch, it’s on you. And, you might want to take a look at why. Anyway, on to today’s topic: the old “You don’t look autistic” line.
How the Fuck Am I Supposed To Look?
That phrase is something every autistic person has heard at some point or another. Apparently, there is a specific way autistic people look. I’m not sure what it is, though. Now, whenever I hear this, my first inclination is to tell the speaker to go eat a bag of dicks. And, even though I know that response is so goddamn counterproductive, it will slip out before I can stop it sometimes. Yeah, I am slightly angry about this. In fact, this shit pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe.
Geez, Joel. Why So Angry?
Because, whatever “looking” autistic might be, it’s almost sure that we’re talking about some ableist fuckery. I think when people say this offensive shit, they mean we don’t look like Raymond from the film Rain Man. Or, that we’re not rocking in a fucking corner, totally nonverbal, and unable to take care of ourselves. And, of course, there’s the fact that autism is “different” and in American parlance, “different” = “ugly”. Basically, the whole thing is designed to keep allistics from feeling any fucking discomfort or having to fucking deal with their shit in any fucking way. It makes sense in a fucked up kind of way. I mean, everything else is set up for y’all’s benefit, why not this shit, too?
Not Looking Autistic Is Hard Fucking Work
Here’s the thing, though; it takes a massive amount of effort to look this “normal”. I can only pull it off because of coping skills acquired over a lifetime of being a weird-ass motherfucker. Using those skills requires significant energy, effort, and time. Energy, effort, and time that could be used to solve complex problems, write bestsellers, or cure cancer. But, I’m not doing that shit because I’m so goddamn exhausted from constantly fucking masking so I can survive in this neurotypical hellscape y’all call “society”.
No, Karen, We’re Not All a Little Autistic
“You don’t look autistic” is just one part of the litany of offensive fucking shit we NDs hear from neurotypicals. It’s also shit like, “We’re all a little autistic/ADHD.” No. Just fucking no. We are not all “a little” neurodivergent and you saying that shit minimizes what we actual NDs go through on a daily basis. Just because you don’t like big crowds or loud noises is not the same goddamn thing as being autistic. And, the next neurotypical shitweasel I hear say that there’s no such thing as ADHD, that “Those kids don’t need medication, they need a good whipping” is going to get punched in the fucking throat. It’s a bunch of bullshit we hear way too goddamn much. And, to be clear, even once is too goddamn much. So, stop saying it. Just. Fucking. Stop.