Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book exerpt

You know that book I've been working on? It's kind of my current obsession. I'm about 130 pages into it. I write daily. One of the questions I did today was, "How do you decide who to tell and when?" That's something I really struggle with. So here's a paragraph from my book, getting at the heart of the matter.

"Work and school activities are both situations that I strongly consider telling someone about my autism. I wouldn't want to get fired from work, in trouble with a professor, or asked to drop an activity due to something related to my autism, something I can't help. The hardest decisions to make are in regard to peers. Do I let people think I'm weird, or do I provide an explanation for my weirdness? On one hand, part of me thinks that other people's opinions of me aren't important, that I should be who I am and let people take it or leave it. I should have enough confidence to be myself regardless of whether people approve of me or not. Also, I don't want to use autism as a "get out of jail free" card. I don't want people to lower their expectations of me simply because of my diagnosis. On the other hand, maybe exactly what they need to do is change their expectations. I can't be expected to always be appropriate in social situations, because new things come up that I haven't learned about, and sometimes I'm inappropriate without knowing. I can't be expected to tolerate loud, crowded environments, because my sensory system just doesn't cooperate and I panic. If I don't provide people with an explanation, they're going to expect me to be as skillful as anyone else in social situations and they'll expect me to go to movies or the mall on a weekend afternoon. I know other adults with autism who don't tell anyone about their autism and let others think what they will, and I know others who bring it up in the first moments of meeting a new person. I'm not sure that either extreme is the way to go, but it remains a difficult balance."

My question to you is this: What would you do?


  1. My thought is, with peers... if it comes up, it comes up. If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's not something you need to hide or be ashamed of, but I also don't think it's so defining that it should always be the first thing people learn about you. If a situation comes up, and autism is the explanation, then explain. Chances are, if you're with someone often enough, it will eventually come up on its own.

  2. Something that occurs to me is that people in general are less likely to be offended by you inadvertantly being inappropriate som ehow if they know you have autism. Not so much a "get out of jail free" card as a "Ahh, OK that's not what she meant" card