Adaptive Autism

A dangerous trend I see in the neurodivergent community online is a fierce resistance to help oneself. It’s a narrative that reads “I have x issue therefore I cannot do y.” Sometimes that’s valid for the benefit of one’s health and avoiding extreme detriment.

As in, “I have auditory and visual processing issues, therefore I cannot attend loud, busy concerts, even with ear and eye protection. It is absolutely too overstimulating, and I will go into meltdown.” (an example) For others, like me, that can be true on some days and not others depending on how much stimulation we’ve been receiving lately. And so on.

Here’s where I tend to object. Black and white thinking. When some Autistic people argue for argument’s sake. (I see it happen all the time. There’s a few different types of us, I think.) Someone want to make a point, they dig deep into semantics, and make a very large blanket statement that’s not necessarily true.

“I can never eat vegetables.” “I don’t drink water.” “I will never touch a fork.” These are absurd, extreme examples, (for most, not all, people,) but it’s some absurd, extreme things that I’ve heard people say while frustrated, and I have immediately side-eyed. I think to myself, how in the world do you get through life if you don’t use paper but are able to do so? You use paper. Stop that. (I, myself, am making blanket statements to illustrate a point. See how that worked out? Haha... But you get the point.)

As Autistic adults, we need to be adaptive. Yes, we have challenges and what we experience is real and difficult. No, you shouldn’t be forced to do things that are in the category of absolute sensory hell such that it causes you physical pain. You should make yourself uncomfortable. You should learn how to protect your senses so that you can tolerate more and get through life without having to be constantly overwhelmed. You can learn social skills without having to completely appear or conform to neurotypical standards. It’s all about balance.

I mainly brought up sensory stuff because it’s a physical, tangible thing that’s easy to discuss, but I’m implying behavioural things as well that are less tangible. I’m a big supporter of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and finding a therapist well versed in adult Autism and trauma as well as art therapy and having hobbies as emotional outlets.

Yeah, we make life difficult for other people when we create unnecessary roadblocks, but we make life the most difficult for ourselves. We miss out on relationships, jobs, and having fun. I am so thankful for the awareness that exists to combat the rampant ugliness of Autism pseudoscience and abusive tactics on the Internet. Please also remember to participate in active self care. You are worth the best chance at life you can have. Take advantage of it. See what it has to offer.