Monday, January 11, 2010

Another dilemma

For the past few months, I've been going to a kind of HFA/AS support group. Once a month there are social outings with family members (movies, the mall, the baseball game, bowling, etc.) and then once a month there's a discussion group at the library. I've gone to three or four social outings with my mom and two discussions.

I'm not sure if I want to keep going or not. It's nice that some of the people understand what I'm dealing with and have similar issues, but I find that I don't have a lot in common with most of the members (who are, vastly, male). More than a few of the people in the group talk excessively. Moreso than anyone I've ever met. You can't get a word in edgewise. Being someone who tends to be quiet, I find it impossible to carry on a conversation with someone like that. It becomes entirely one-sided. It grates on my last nerve. To an extent, I suppose they can't help it anymore than I can help being quiet, but I still find it very difficult to be around and really start to lose my patience.

The other issue I have with the group is its whole mentality. There seem to be two schools of thought within the group. Some are mired in their disability. Most don't work, and many of them have little interest in ever working again. They seem to expect the world to pave their way. I notice a lot of "I can't because of my disability." One person discussed the fact that her parents bought her a house but not her brother. The person said, "I'm disabled. I deal with enough with my disability. The least they could do is buy me a house." I was floored. Even if my mom had the money, she wouldn't buy me a house. She might help me to pay for an apartment until I could get my feet on the ground, but not a 2-story house to live in myself. I find it almost obscene for someone to expect things like that of others. My mom constantly says, "I think you can work in some capacity." I think she's right. Not right now, mind you, but I'm volunteering at least 4 days a week. I will not be a taker in this world.

The other side of the group mentality is what I consider to be the "Aspie subculture." Nothing gets to be like that little word "Aspie." Why would you cutesify a pathological condition? I suppose because it makes it more acceptable, less intimidating to deal with. These people think that there's nothing wrong with "being an Aspie," but that society at large is to blame. Society this, society that. "NTs," or neurotypicals-- non-autistic people-- are looked at as "aliens." In their minds, conforming to the "NT world" is the worst thing you can do. Be an Aspie and be proud. If something in this world is hard for you, blame society! Ugh. No. There is a lot wrong with society, but that's for another time and place than my blog. The reason I struggle to fit in is because I deviate significantly from the societal norm. I deviate because I have a neurological condition on the autism spectrum. I am not, not will I ever be, an Aspie. Shudder.

All of this aside, there are some really nice people are group who I like to be around and laugh with. The badgering questions, the nonstop talking, and the group mentality though, makes me leave the group very frustrated, every time I go. The social outings tend to be a more low-key group of people than the discussion groups, which I almost can't bear. If I do stay in the group, it will probably just be the social outings.

So what's your take on the subject? Stay or go? How do I deal with the frustrations?


  1. It's probably the second that I find to be more problematical than the first (though some degree of entitlement mentality: I find some of those expectations obscene also), particularly that those I knew directly to be on the spectrum did not engage in it. It was something I read about in books and on websites.

    Not, of course, to be confused with the social model of disability.

    (And surprisingly it was an autistic woman who started it. Her name was Liane Holliday Wiley).

    I hope you do continue to go to the social outings, and meet people through your volunteer work.

    (And I don't like excessive talkers, either. Even if I might be interested in some of their topics or admire their ability to talk underwater!)

    And me, I wouldn't know what to do without wondering what they would think of me.

  2. Well, I'm all for taking out of a situation what works for you. I'm sure those chatterboxes are happy enough in their own noise so what about meeting up and doing something with the people you do get on with? There's no rule that says you can only see them as a part of the wider group.

    It always amazes me the different attitudes you meet in the "autistic community". It ranges from "the world owes me" to "watch out here I come" and everything in between. Personally, I hope to guide my girls to have the courage to be themselves, to learn how the world works and adapt to be a part of it, to contribute as much as they can whilst being unafraid to ask for help. It's a tightrope I endeavour to walk holding my head high.

  3. I would do whatever feels like relief. If that means only attending the outings, so be it.

    I like John Elder Robison's term "Aspergian." More dignified than Aspie. I don't have Asperger's though so I don't get to decide!