So Why Would You Hide That You’re Autistic Anyway?
I haven’t actually gotten this question, but I have a feeling some people had it in their heads when they saw I’m not ‘hiding’ it anymore. It pretty much boils down to a few reasons.
First is the internal shame. When a teacher asks you why you didn’t turn in your work on time, and you say you just were too lazy or didn’t do it in time, then that’s all fine because you see it as your own fault. But when you have a mental handicap that takes up so much of your time that you hardly get any work done and you also believe that you should be working so much harder than that… it becomes very hard to say “I couldn’t because I had problems with my autism.” To say anything less than that seems more like an excuse. If the teacher only knows that I have “emotional issues”, so what? So does ‘every other teenager’. That’s totally nonunique and is ‘no excuse for getting work in late’. If they don’t know any better, they can’t treat me better. I was lucky that this year that all my teachers became far more lenient on me as a result of it, but I can only imagine the levels of hell a more unlucky person would have.
The second reason is because of the uselessness of Normal People. 99% of the people who I tell my problems about autism to will be absolutely and unbearingly useless about all of it. They will tell me to not overreact about the sensitivities I have, not comprehend the breakdowns and tell me to stop thinking about the issues that trigger them in the first place, mettle down my problems as being ‘normal’ and not worth significant consideration outside what everyone else does to treat them, or if they’re honest just tell me they really have no clue how to help, which is reasonable. Normal People only have to deal with Normal and Situational problems; to be Weird is to be strained with the burden of the unfortunate, and those who have never had any significant difficulty outside the Normal cannot provide any assistance.
In the past, the situation was even worse. I became weary of the false promises people made me. They told me they would help me with the autism and wouldn’t give up. They told me they would try all they could to help me. They told me they cared and would do what they could.
And most of them gave up within a month, tops. Some of them just stopped talking to me after a month honestly; it was as if they never wanted to really be my friend in the first place.
Repeat this about 50 times and you can understand the reluctance in telling people.
In 8th grade, it even led to downright mocking as some of the kids made fun of the condition and called me Ass Burger. Real awesome right? They called me a robot too, and later on that did some nasty psychological damage.
And finally, I didn’t understand enough about it. Even though I’m talking about all this like a champ, hindsight is 20-20. I wasn’t plopped down with some magical unicorn fairy dust knowledge of how the autism functions or why the Aspergers does what it does; I had to learn each and every individual facet of it as they came up. I had to understand how the Rule System works, how come breakdowns occur, the appropriate interactions, the correct underlying morals of the System, my sensitivities and limits on emotions, and all of this was learned over the course of 3 years. Just a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to talk so fluently about what I know.
This is a recent thing, very very recent. Just a week ago I learned I had six triggers for my breakdowns instead of just one which left me totally scared out of my mind and incapacitated for a few days. It’s an excellent example in how much more I have left to learn.
I have to keep in perspective a lot that I’m only 17. I’m really really pushing myself on this, but I don’t want to give up, and I want to learn before I no longer have the benefit of Ms. Kolk or the safety of a higher-than-average understanding environment.