Trigger Warning: Abuse, neglect, assault, sexual assault. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
An absolute nightmare for many autistic people.
When the approach we use in many early intervention services is to teach the autistic child that their thinking, doing and being is neurologically flawed, we’re not off to a good start.
When we may have been privy to being corrected and reprimanded (for things we often don’t understand as wrong), the self doubt is instilled very young.
When we learn early on that others seem to have a socialisation intuition that we don’t (when really it’s just different), we take on the belief that our intuition is not reliable.
Nor are our thoughts and understandings of a situation.
This leads us into extreme vulnerability.
It leads us into being taken advantage of.
It takes us by the hand and gaslights us with a smile.
Our concrete thinking and often literal interpretation of abstract concepts means we might believe more than our non autistic peers that the media is right about appropriate gender and age related stereotypical behaviour.
Our value based on sex and sexuality.
An ever present existential crisis brewing within us, popping up to terrify us regularly, beginning in childhood.
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
What’s wrong with me?
Why can’t I do that?
Why don’t people like me?
What did I do wrong?
What the FUCK is wrong with me?
This is normally by our teens.
It takes a lifetime to learn and be convinced of our worth, if ever we get there.
We are fragile; so fragile.
Sadness is all consuming and is interpreted as crisis.
Happiness is ambivalent yet wonderful.
And boundaries; ohhh boundaries.
How do we set boundaries with others that feel right when the world around us sees us as the inferior neurotype?
How do we say No and mean it without emotion?
How are we respected and heard in our No?
We are, as autistic people, often unrelentingly forgiving.
Compassionate, empathetic, living out the pain of others.
Loyal, energetically invested.
We love hard and we fall hard.
The few times I’ve had friendships or romantic relationships end, my dream state has carried on processing the loss for years after.
I mourn, I grieve, I struggle to comprehend how.
How we can be so close with another, sharing ourselves, intimately connected,
And then no more.
For whatever reason.
We often still love.
Years after, endlessly.
Despite restraining orders, family violence, parental neglect, sexual assault, horrendous violations and abuse, crimes against us.
We often STILL feel compassion, deep sadness, want help for those who have hurt and harmed us.
I have learnt in adult life that it is important to be heavily boundaried.
Often, without a glimpse of emotion in my words or actions.
Clear. Concise. To the point.
Cold, it seems.
And it hurts.
As deeply emotional people, it is our vulnerability that often leads us autistics into the darkness, whilst all the while it is the light that shines from within us.
We learn not to be too “full on” with new people- friends and lovers.
The process of self preservation coupled with all or nothing intensity is..
We learn to take the lead of others, but risk being misunderstood as ‘’uninterested” or “lazy”.
Sometimes, I want everything, now.
And this can be too much.
Far too much to ask of another.
I am passionate with force.
And so, setting boundaries with others when I have failed to see the clear signs previously is difficult.
Setting boundaries, can often mean ending a connection or an engagement.
It is often said of us that we cut others off without warning.
So here’s the warning:
If we are mistreated over time and don’t respond accordingly,
If our kindness and compassion is misunderstood as weakness,
Do not be mistaken.
We will catch on.
Our intuition knows.
We just take time to catch up, cognitively, because we’re trying to be fair,
To not fit the stereotype of being over reactive or misunderstanding.
We need to be sure that what we suspect about how we’re being treated is 100% correct before we take action.
And when we know, we watch the truth, the ugly truth, unravel before us.
And then it’s over.
It’s vital to teach our autistic children to honour their intuition.
It’s crucial to teach our autistic children their worth.
It’s vital to actualise them and not attempt to normalise them, leaving them feeling unacceptable and disordered.
It’s important to model healthy relationships, including open and honest conversations and boundaries.
And, we can only teach our children how to set boundaries with others by respecting theirs.
Boundaries are imperative for autistic people. . . . Kristy Forbes inTune Pathways . . Image: Anvil the movie