For a moment, let’s flip things over. To an autistic viewer like me, neurotypical life can seem astonishingly unemotional. I’m so overwhelmed by the sensory onslaught of a busy room that I’m almost tearful, while neurotypical folk appear to wade through clouds of sound, light and odour, entirely oblivious. It’s hard to resist the impression that they’re numb, or unreal somehow. They are certainly displaying a lack of affect in the face of extreme provocation. Where I am in constant movement; they are somehow still. […]
From my end of the conversation, the constant chatter seems colourless and dry. Instead of discussing their driving passions, my companions prefer to gossip about near-strangers, or to compete for airtime at the expense of listening and perhaps learning something useful. They are endlessly obsessed with their status and their identification with their tribe. As the conversation moves on to current affairs, people stumble over themselves to agree with the most influential person at the table. They seem able to assimilate news stories that I find too tragic to digest, and to flip them glibly into humour, finding glee in the kind of interpersonal politics that make the air feel thick to me. To me, their company seems superficial, blunt, emotionless.
Katherine May on authentic experiences.
This is part of a longer essay on how alienating diagnostic criteria lead to damaging pop culture portrayals of autism, and how there is an urgent need for more authentic voices and experiences.
Oh, and also how neurotypicals need to stop labelling everyone they find even vaguely assholish as having “Asperger’s” because, like, that’s both, a) not how that works, and b) hugely douchey.