Monday, October 17, 2016

Professional vs. Autistic

So, Theory of Mind. This "how people think about others thinking" or whatever. It's claimed autistic people can't do that. There are so many different things out there claiming that people like don't have the ability to think about how others think - their thoughts, their perspectives, their needs.

And I teach. I teach neurodivergent people. Frequently autistic. And teach neurodivergently.

And I talk to people about autism.

So I can tell you, people don't listen to an autistic adult. It doesn't matter how interested in autism they are, they don't care at all about hearing voices of an adult who actually lives this life. I tell people about my life and I've been told things like "It doesn't matter that people don't do anything for autistic adults because they do so much for children" (yes, that's a quote, in response to me not even requesting things being done for me). I'm told "that can't be true" (heard that many times.) I'm told that I'm just an exception, so I don't matter. I'm literally spoken over, have people start ignoring my presence, have people start trying to make sure nobody else can speak to me, am followed around purposefully triggering migraines.

People don't listen to an autistic adult.

They do listen to a professional.

I'm someone who works with autistic students? Awesome! I know so much about autism! I'm one of the first people to ask! Question after question comes at me. Can I teach these people with my free time that I don't have?

As soon as I'm seen as a Professional, I'm knowledgeable.

As soon as I'm Autistic, I'm too "High Functioning" to know what Real autism is like"

Professional, help fix this problem of nobody knowing anything!
Autistic, you can't know how to work with people.
Professional, teacher.
Autistic, broken.

Let's circle back to that theory of mind I mentioned before getting into this.

When I'm seen as autistic, I'm seen as not being able to understand autism. I'm seen as not being able to understand myself.

When I'm seen as a professional, I'm seen as being able to understand others.

An autistic professional, I'm seen as necessarily not only having this theoretical Theory of Mind concept that is thrown around in order to kick down autistic people because of us thinking differently, I'm seen as I should theoretically understand others better than I understand myself. I should understand others so well that I can speak for them (which isn't a thing ANYONE can do, but I'm told I should be able to). And yet, I can't speak for myself.

Everything is backwards from what it's "supposed to be". Because both sides are broken and wrong, and I'm able to think about myself and able to think about others, and can be an autistic person who teaches autistic people and it's not contradictory. But, with how I'm treated, you'd think it is.


  1. I'm not sure how the fact that *some* autistic children/adults struggle with Theory of Mind is necessarily negative or putting down those people. Theory of Mind by itself usually involves first knowing that other people have thoughts, beliefs, and desires, then understanding that those can be different than your own, then being able to distinguish their thoughts/beliefs/situation from your own to predict what they will do. There have been studies about this concept (basically the classic puppet thing where someone hides something from one puppet and you have to figure out what they don't know, that you do know). Now, higher 'functioning' autistic people tend to have this, either having no deficit in it, having improved naturally in it, or having actually been taught it. A temporary malfunction can be the cause of a variety of social problems. I've seen this enough that I know it's an issue for some kids (and sometimes adults).

    I do agree though that it can be frustrating to be expected to have the extreme degree of empathy and emotional IQ that some others have or the irrational level that some people expect from others (that one is frustrating to neurotypicals and autistics alike) and to have to constantly worry about appearing 'professionally neurotypical'.

    1. Sorry meant to say "emotional intelligence". This is also referred to as "EQ" in some businessy things.

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    3. Autistic people have affective empathy, which is the ability to relate to other people's emotions. Sometimes they just need to be told the emotions that someone is experiencing, or sometimes the emotions are too difficult for them to deal with, and they react in inappropriate ways.

      Cognitive empathy, or Theory of Mind, means the ability to read between the lines; to discern other people's intentions, motives, etc.. This fact means that autistic people are easily taken advantage of or deceived and this may make them very wary of the world and unlikely to trust people.

      The reason they may appear to be unable to understand that someone else is capable of having another opinion is because they may be black and write thinkers, very likely to adhere to rules and be unable to stray from their personal morals and values, and need to overstate themselves because nobody takes their opinions seriously.

      You are exactly one of the people that the poster is talking about. Please educate yourself. You do not have the right EVER to argue with an autistic person about their extensive knowledge and their lived experience of a condition they have and you do not.

    4. Please don't say "I do agree with you" on thing I did not state.

      I do not worry about acting any sort of "professional neurotypical", do not suggest to people that they should. I am autistic, and act autistic.

      What I find frustrating isn't anything about what amount of empathy people expect me to have or anything at all resembling attempting to pass.

      It's that people only can see me one way at a time, they only see one aspect of me. And they only listen to me when they see the "professional" aspect. I want to be listened to because I'm autistic, on autistic matters. Yet, I cannot be, I can be listened to because I work with other people. That's incredibly frustrating and says that my experiences don't matter.

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