Here is a clip from the movie about autism, “Too Sane for this World.” I have been watching the clips, and I would like to see the entire movie before I can make a more balanced and thorough critique of it. However, based on the clips available on youtube, my first reaction is that I am not sure I like this title. The use of the word “sane” is questionable, because this word is too loaded with connotations, not all of which is positive.
My brain caught a worm this morning, watching this particular clip. Gregory Yates, the second person interviewed in this clip, said something that disturbed me greatly. He used the description, “socially disabled,” to describe himself, as an autistic person.
OK, so this is a casual blog, mainly about the senses, hypersenses and my autistic sensory world. So, I shall spare you all the long intellectual argument here. We can do that elsewhere. However, that phrase has seriously stirred some disquiet into my cheerful ‘Hello Kitty and Hearts’ french toasties breakfast, and I just have to have a go at it, while tucking in. (Yes, I am multitasking, and yes, autistics can and do multitask, just not in the same way as neurotypicals do.)
How am I “socially disabled?”
I dislike and almost despise meaningless small talk in superficial interactions. I have practised it almost to a fine art, but I loathe it. Gallery openings, pre-concert VIP cocktails, book launches etc, whenever and wherever I am required by neurotypical social dictates to ‘mingle’ and perform ticklish trivialities, never fail to trigger massive sensory overload, cognitive exhaustion and thereafter autoimmune flare ups. I suffer for hours or even days afterwards. These days, I try to avoid such occasions.
I hate loud noisy environments. Parties and shouting mundanities over the cacophony at pubs, clubs, busy restaurants. I see no value in interacting within such conditions, which seem so favoured by the majority of neurotypicals.
My brain instinctively cognates literally – I do not naturally ‘read between the lines.’ The detriment to self is that I don’t realise that chit-chatty nice-nicey neurotypicals are lying through their shiny teeth and grinning faces until much later, and often too late.
I don’t like jokes that put others down. Sure, I admit I have partaken in these activities, just to blend in socially, but in my own element, if I am criticising someone, I am usually dead serious, and it’s not a frothy fun activity to me, even if my delivery may be sufficiently dramatic for neurotypical entertainment.
I prefer conversations about concrete interests. These include my pet subjects or learning about yours, so long as your interests are not solely in the realms of reality television shows (please, not The Batchelorette!).
I like using language, I enjoy communicating with people who have a robust command of language.
I abhor the flagrant use of expletives. I think expletives are great, but only to be used in proper context and for characteristic and distinctive effect. Not as the most prominent part of every sentence, and definitely not towards your pet bird or just as accompaniment to getting out of a bean bag!
I have hypersenses. I don’t like hugging and kissing socially. People don’t realise the effect of their odours on my nerves. Shaking hands is already an effort, the texture of someone else’s hand, and the pressure (or lack) of the handshake are variables that I would rather not have to endure. Sometimes, it is a pleasant surprise, I like firm handshakes, but most times merely yet another exercise in endurance.
I am fiercely loyal to people I value. And I appreciate if they value me in the same way too. Honour is a prized commodity to me. However, I have come to realise that the general majority of neurotypicals do not share the same level of loyalty as I offer them. The element of sociability is foremost in their minds – some of those I once considered my dearest friends, think nothing of fraternising socially with people who they know have abused me and used me, and with whom I have severed all ties. I have no more need for these kinds of ‘friends’ though I mourn the loss, they are valueless to me now, and I have no wish to waste precious sensory energy and physical pain on spending time with them.
I prefer more intimate socialising, with one or a maximum of two, friends, with whom I can share concrete and meaningful common ground. I now do not attend group socials. It is too difficult to conduct any sincere, consequential communication when locked inside a mass/group dynamic, not to mention the horrible sensory burdening cacophony!
The list goes on and on. So, I suppose, in the context of the general neurotypical social constructs, yes, I am “socially disabled.” However, I am not in the least ashamed of this “disability” anymore. I am proud of my abilities, even my social abilities. I merely belong in a different dimension, thank you very much. I don’t need the neurotypical ableisms as markers of my social skills.