Why might it be that society doesn’t seem to understand enough about autism and how can we change that?
So many groups of people who think, or feel, or behave differently, are readily accepted, understood, and even protected, but often this doesn’t seem to be the same for people who are given the labels attached to brains that divert from the majority neurotype.
There are so many myths and misconceptions leading to a myriad of misunderstandings, that the truth about what autism really is, and really isn’t, is often hidden behind the stereotypes and stigma. The same is true for ADHD, ADD, OCD and all of the different neurological ways of processing.
In the recent documentary about autistic minds, Dr Chris Packham created a digital image of the way that his brain sees and seeks out knowledge. I was excited because it was how I see things, but then he didn’t explain. Dr Camilla Pang, in her book Explaining Humans describes a similar thing, but refers to what she calls tree thinking: the way that her brain and her thoughts flow and grow.
My Sherlock Holmes thing.
I call this my Sherlock Holmes thing - but without the ability to solve crimes. I see and hear and feel and process everything all at once which often causes physical and mental meltdowns.
I know this now, but I have spent over fifty years thinking that I am just awkward or ungrateful or too fussy. There have been occasions where I have presumed that I felt uncomfortable, or unable to cope, because the people didn’t like me, or because of something that I had said or done. And whilst that might have been true, I would often cause an argument or become hysterical so that I could find a reason to leave.
If I had been able to identify what was really happening to me, and if I had been able to explain, then maybe I could have navigated life in a way that wouldn’t have left me feeling confused, rejected, and feeling unable to fit in.
If we all talk more about how we feel and hear and see the world, then my hope is that the world will become a place that is more autism friendly than we often feel it is right now.
My hope is that we start to talk about our autism, or neurodivergent ways of feeling and seeing the world, in ways that others can recognise and understand.
As part of my Post Graduate Course in Autism Studies, I have created material for autism recognition and identification without lists of deficits or impairments. Whilst the language is only negative, and focused on disorder and disability, it is not surprising that autism is misunderstood.
#feelingtheworlddifferently #womenandautism #actuallyautistic #neurodifferentminds