This post is in response to yet another powerful piece of thinking by Judy Endow. Read it here: Autism, Accommodation and Differential Expectations.
Ah, accommodations… Sometimes, people make accommodations for me, announced with a warm fuzzy glow, and then suddenly withdraw them because it’s no longer comfortable for them to continue, and leave me to fend for myself without offering me any other alternatives. In the meantime, I am making accommodations for them all the time, being grateful, showing gratitude as best as I can, taking into account their own neurodiversity quirks, and, yes, even in the way I do not rant and scream when said promised accommodations are abruptly withdrawn. It is very very tiring, making accommodations for anyone, but the Endeavour of Empathy is important. We must not stop endeavouring, though let’s not forget that the endeavour is to Self as much as to Other. We autists struggling to survive this terrain need to remember that empathy is for Self too, because so often the demands of normative social constructs say we must do otherwise, and so we do.
And… a little parody on a true story, from the marvelous adventures of Bunnyhopscotch and her dog Lucy.
“Here’s a wheelchair for you, my dear, a brand new shiny one! I saw you limping along, so brave and inspiring! I know you are a wonderful person because you help other people even though you are struggling yourself. I just want to help you with something you clearly need.” – Accommodator.
“Thank you so very very much!” – Bunny… spoken
I will tidy your house, do your laundry, clean your kitchen, cook for you, entertain your friends, wash your dishes and listen to your chitchat – even though I am screaming inside to find peace and isolation so that I may revive and refresh while revelling in my work-of-passion. Oh yes, and I do have a deadline for this opus too. But no, my gratitude towards you is so immense, I MUST put your needs ahead of mine because of this lovely blingy new wheelchair you so generously gifted to me. – Bunny… unspoken but in action.
Some time later…
“Oops, sorry, I really cannot continue like this, my mind is breaking down… I need to take back that wheelchair I gave you, I need it for myself after all. It’s not personal, but I just don’t know how long I can carry on like this… I cannot be sure… When I will need your wheelchair back, maybe or maybe not… But… It’s so hard for me… Help! I am sinking!” – Accommodator. (now formerly so).
Bunny gets off shiny blingbling wheelchair, hands it back to former Accommodator, and is now having to crawl on the ground. Deadline looming. Time lost and worn down from cleaning, tidying, cooking, washing and especially socialising. In pain. No money for another wheelchair, not even a second hand non-shiny one. And a very sick dog in tow.
Somebody else comes along. And brings a friend. Formerly strangers. Now friends. They help Bunny. A lousy rickety old wheelchair rolls into the scene. Torn at the seats. But Bunny gets on. It’s ok. We can do it! No announcements. No bravado statements of morality and “inspiration porn.” Just … an old creaky wheelchair that needs oiling. The friend nurses Bunny’s sick dog back to glowing health. Again, no pronouncement.
Accommodation? Just do it. Or not. Please, no half measures. I am not your fluffy inspirational toy.