Today I’d like to say something to autistic and allistic (non-autistic, if that’s a new word for you) people. Are you ready? Neurotypicals aren’t the only ones who have to accommodate others.
First, let’s look at something allistics have to do to accommodate people with autism.
listening to an autistic person talk about their special interest
dealing with a meltdown
having your social cues not received as you wanted them to be
decreasing sensory input for sensitivities
changing testing situations in schools
getting specific foods to suit our tastes
having us constantly engage in our special interests every chance we get
Now, let’s list the things autistic people do to accommodate allistics, or things that they experience which they suppress as a method of accommodating others to be treated like “normal people.”
not talk about their special interest
not talk about their special interest more, because remember, an allistic person only experiences the discussion about a special interest once and the autistic person has to keep not talking about it all day
it’s an active challenge to not talk about your special interest, it consumes you with passion and joy and curiosity
I think that’s enough talking about special interests for in this list, I just want to make it clear that it’s much more difficult than most people realize because it’s almost the same as choosing not to talk at all during a normal day-try it, it’s harder than it seems
sensory overload from each of the senses
knowing that you’re being judged for your responses to sensory overload
the horrific process of reaching the breaking point before a meltdown which I would need an entire article to describe
the actual meltdown, see above
making eye contact far more than we want to
being chastised for not making eye contact
trying to learn social cues
inevitably failing to learn social cues at some point and being consistently rejected for it
still trying to learn social cues because it’s the only real option we have outside of complete withdrawal
more sensory overload
eating food that we actively hate because other people don’t understand that when you have sensory sensitivities to taste, eating certain foods is like eating the sound of nails across a chalkboard
The concept of accommodations is a simple one. One group experiences difficulty as the result of a genuine difference and asks to be treated differently as a result. Easy, right?
Well, no one wants to compromise or shift, autistic people included. The differences are all in the intensity and the perspective. Listening to us talk for hours may be difficult, but imagine that in reverse—you can only talk about your perspective for half an hour, probably once a day. Something that makes you more excited than most neurotypicals are for most of their lives. The rest of the time, people actively bully or deride you for doing so.
From sitting still when we want to fidget, to gritting our teeth and screaming internally as we try to survive the endless onslaught of smells, sounds, and sights that your brains need to notice the world around you, we sit quietly—even if we literally don’t—instead of voicing our complaints.
Ever tried to point something out to someone and struggled in frustration as they didn’t see it for ten straight minutes? That dullness of sensory perception must be great when the world is made to fit it, because we get the full brunt of what y’alls brains just plainly ignores!
Sweet tap dancing cephalopods, don’t even get me started on social cues. Yes, I get that they’re useful. Yes, I get why we have them. But don’t think yourself a martyr for learning to be blunt with us when we spend our ENTIRE EXISTENCES trying to learn all the minutia of your interactions across thousands of different divides. It’s the most arbitrary and petty thing humans could possibly do with their brainpower, but here we are, learning it anyway. We do it because we have no passable alternative, and all we ask in return is a little patience.
Accommodations go both ways, so please remember that the people you’re dealing with are human. We’re trying our best, and it may not always go how we like. A little patience goes a long way.