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"Different not less" - to be honest, I disagree

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I'm so sorry to be potentially controversial and I really don't want to cause any upset, but I feel this is a place where we should be able to express our opinions as autistic people and I totally disagree with the "different not less" thing.

As an Aspie, I believe I am less. I believe I would be a better, more effective person if I was neurotypical. I believe I would be a better daughter and a proper big sister, who could give her younger sisters advice on boys, friends etc. I believe I wouldn't have spent most of my life being mocked and shamed. People patronise me and make me feel like a freak. I can't hold down a job or go to university due to mental health issues I wouldn't have if I wasn't on the spectrum. I'm not a proper woman as Asperger's is not a feminine thing; or at least, I don't feel I present enough like a girl. I'm told every day that I have to have difficulties with my sensory processing, with my wanting relationships etc, and they are wrong but I feel I have to go along with what they're saying because I'm the one with the diagnosis. I have I could go on, but I'm just exhausted today.

I just don't understand this "autism can be a gift" thing. If it was a "gift" then why would it be a medical diagnosis? Why would it be something that parents dread to the point that, even though that whole thing about the MMR vaccine has been disproved, they still don't want to risk their child having the vaccination unless it makes them autistic?

Sitting here close to tears. I just can't bear this pain - I find myself overwhelmed and crying in public places. I despise my autism.

Yep, I agree with you. Not saying that it has to be like this, nor that someone who sees it as a gift is wrong, but for myself your statement is probably true. The only thing where I certainly can see an advantage (again, for myself, may not apply to everybody) is having a lot of motivation that comes from within. That can be useful and is probably one of the reasons why the percentage of people with mild forms of ASD working in science is higher than average, it definitely seems a suitable place for me. But even this has been a bad thing recently. Just got reminded of this when I went to a photographer today to have a pic taken and got the file which turned out to be pretty small – as it came from the camera. Went back and told the lady that her camera must be in some space-saving setting which compromises the quality of the photos and she said she can’t change this because that’s how the manager has set it. I could never have a job where this level of obedience is required…

Not much we can do about that though, I suppose, other than talking ourselves into believe that it is a great thing until we stumble over it again and fall on our face once more.

Sorry, wished I could say something that makes you feel a bit better.

No need to be sorry, I'm really glad someone can openly say they agree with me! I don't even have the motivation thing anymore...I'm just depressed all the time, signed off being able to work and having to turn down my unconditional place at university. And I've always felt cheated, being an Aspie who could not be less of a scientist; I only just scraped Cs in my science and maths GCSEs (in fact I got a D in Chemistry) and that was a huge achievement for me. I can't think logically at all; I run on pure emotion, which is something else people don't tend to associate with Aspies (though it's more common than people think apparently).

That camera incident sounds frustrating...some of the rules within jobs are so stupid, aren't they? I was at my therapy group yesterday morning and the staff running it told us about some of the rules they've experienced within their service...it's enough to make you want to smash things! It's like, they could have helped so many more people more effectively if certain rules hadn't been in place.

I feel like people are complicating life with their "it's a gift" thing. Face it: neurotypical people don't think it's a gift.

Sorry to hear your feeling so negative about being autistic. Arguably, if people didn't experience difficulties then there would be no need for a diagnosis. It's understandable that being treated unfavourably leads to you feeling bad about yourself. You sound exhausted and if you are facing so much negativity that is unsurprising. I would like to suggest that some of your conclusions may not be founded on sound evidence or reasoning, and that this is part of why you think negatively about being autistic. Again, I'm not surprised - it is very difficult to live with people's negative judgments, and if that's all you hear for a long period then it can be difficult to think or believe differently. If you are tired of thinking then you may be better stopping reading. This would just mean you are taking care of  needs In case you stop here, I shall wish you goodnight.

If you want to read my suggestions about different perspectives on what you are feeling bad about, I have tried to explain below by responding to your various points.

1 believing you are less: this is a belief, rather than a fact, which you have formed based on other people treating you unfavourable.

2 being more effective if you were NT: if you were NT you would not be the "you" that you are and therefore you would be less effective at being who you are. There might be things that an NT you would find easier, but effectiveness can be measured in many different ways. If you choose an NT measure then I can understand why you would view yourself as less effective. It may be that other people  jusging you by their own NT measure, so you only get to hear their opinions on your effectiveness. You could decide to use a different measure, according to your strengths (which is what NTs are doing when they apply their NT measure of effectiveness).

3 being better if you were NT: this self-judgement arises also from NT (and disablist)  values, which you are not obliged to accept as true. 

4 being a better daughter: if you were not NT your parents may have missed out on opportunities, for example to develop their compassion or other skills. (This is a hypothetical example, since i don't know your parents, to demonstrate that there is a different way of looking at apparently negative or difficult experiences).

5 being a proper big sister: the things you mention are stereotypes of what a big sister "should" do. Your sister may not  think you should be like this. If she does then during her life she might realise that isn't the only way to be a big sister and/or come to realise things she does value about you, which perhaps a stereotypical big sister wouldn't do/be. Even if she always thinks this, you are not responsible for her difficulty valuing you as the individual that you are. Each of us can do some things well and other things not well. The challenge is to forgive yourself for the things you find difficult or are unable to do.

6 being mocked and shamed and patronized and, consequently, feeling like a freak: possibly, although you might have had another characteristic which people mocked and shamed you for, or you might have been someone who mocked and shamed others. Others' poor treatment of you due to perceived differences does not equate to you being, in fact, lesser. It does demonstrate their lack of empathy, compassion and ability to step out of their comfort zone.

7 mental health issues: NTs also experience mental health issues. I don't know what yours are (and I don't think it's relevant to what I'm trying to explain), but you might have had similar or different mental health issues.

8 holding down university or a job: I understand that it is extremely difficult to accept that one won't (or at least, so far has not) sustain studying or work. I'm also aware of the enormous pressure our society puts people under regarding work. The thing is, if you can't (currently?) Do these things, despite your best efforts, it is not your fault, in which case not working or studying is not a moral issue and is not a helpful measure of self-worth - you will set yourself up for feeling bad about yourself if your measure of feeling good is based on something you are not managing to do. Maybe the things that you are able to do in your daily life, for example, are more useful ways of measuring your success. If I knew you then I could perhaps give an example specific to you. If you are unsure of your skills then it can help to ask someone who knows you (and who had the ability to recognize people's skills, not just someone who knows you and judges you negatively).

9. Not being a proper woman: similar to the big sister issue in that there are stereotypes - and they aren't necessarily true. Also, femininity and masculinity are defined differently in different cultures, so maybe your way of being is just another way of being feminine. It's not good or bad, right or wrong, it's just who and how you are. And I know that a certain autism researcher has an "extreme male brain" theory about autism, but that is questioned, not least by (some) autistic women. Also, why does being a "proper woman" depend on being feminine, or fitting the prevailing understanding of feminine in a given society? (I don't think it does, but recognise that some people do believe this. I'm just saying, because you have mentioned it in the context of your unhappiness.)

10. Being told you have difficulties you don't believe you have: you don't have to agree with them. You can choose whether to respond to people saying these things. You can choose whether to seem as if you agree, or you can make it known that you disagree. I suppose it depends whether their perception makes a real difference to your life.

All the best to you IWRBW.

Thank you, Curious

Hi curious, thank you so much for taking the time to reply in such a detailed way, I really do appreciate it. I'll reply to your points in chronological order, if that's OK.

1 - The fact that I am less is a fact. I don't mean to say necessarily that other people on the spectrum are automatically less but at the end of the day, we are all what other people say we are. That whole "we are who we think we are" thing is nonsense in  my mind; we are one person and if everyone else in our lives reacts to us in a negative way then we must be bad, or have something defective about us.

2 - I don't want to be the "me" I am. I resent myself every day. Ugh. I repulse myself. And I'm very ineffective at it - covered it self-harm scars with an eating disorder, unable to do anything decent with her life.

3 - Surely it's better not to be disabled?

4 - So the only things my parents have potentially got from me is to be more compassionate because I'm useless and defective and they've had to be more compassionate? What a terrible thing when a child is supposed to bring you happiness and pride. They are amazing parents, my sisters are beautiful and perfect and they deserve better than me. I wish I'd never been born.

5 - Those things are what a big sister should do. All I bring to my younger sisters' lives are grief - crying, yelling and genuinely being a defective ****. They must be so ashamed of me.

6 - I deserved everything I've ever got from other people. They only confirm the things I think about myself. My self-hatred knows no bounds.

7 - They think I have borderline personality disorder (and before I get a lecture from anyone, I know there are lots of crossover symptoms between that and ASC, but in my case, I've probably got it and have had lots of significant problems in the last few years. They used to think I had bipolar disorder, but have now pretty much changed their minds). I have done my homework and believe that without having Asperger's, I wouldn't have it. This is because I would not have experienced the rejection, isolation and invalidation that I have as a result of my Asperger's. It's way too complex to go into all the details just now, but that's the gist of it.

8 - I am devastated about having to give up my university place, and nothing anyone says will stop me feeling that way. I do have skills...I write (my degree was going to be in English and Creative Writing) and I want to be a teacher (I used to do some teaching assisting and I was told I had a knack for it but whether they were just being kind because I'm the pathetic fat little autistic girl) and I sing, but those things aren't doing me any good now.

9 - I'm not masculine, I like to think I am feminine - I dress in a feminine way and am interested in feminine things, and I want to fit in with the girls but I'm constantly excluded and this is AGONY.

10 - I do have to believe these things because if people tell me they're true, then they are. They know me better than I do. I've got no clue who I am or what I'm thinking half the time.

It's gone beyond "negative thinking," if that makes sense. It isn't as easily fixed as that. But I really do appreciate your reply.

As I had suspected, I see there are many complexities to your self-image and mental health. I can't reply fully to every point, but would like to suggest:

1. So, following your reasoning, if what other people say = fact, then if one or more other people say (with sincerity) that you are not less is that not (also) fact? 

3. That's the whole basis of the discussion of medical versus social model of disability. I read recently an academic essay by a disabled (including mental ill health) transgender person, who proposed a third model, which combines both medical and social models, including space for acknowledging that disability doesn't (always) equate to a positive aspect, but equally there is potential for more nuance than wholly good or wholly bad. This seems to contrast with your subjective experience, which of course is yours to have.

4. I didn't say that compassion was the only thing - it was a hypothetical example of one possible thing. Only your parents (can) know their perspective on being your parent. In this point you do seem to have use very polarized words - negative about yourself, but your sisters are "perfect". I am sceptical about the possibility of anyone being wholly perfect, but if you have a particular definition in mind which they fit then I can't disagree that they are (your definition of) perfect.

Anyway, I would (cautiously, since I really don't know you and am not a mental health professional) say that I recognise the interconnectedness of autism and mental health for you. I will continue to hold you in positive regard as a human being, and wish you the best with getting through life in the best way that you can.