As a gay fella, you'd think 'd have this 'coming out' nonsense sorted already. It turns out though, I'm still struggling... as to just when the best time to 'out' yourself as autistic is!
Case in point: I'm currently trying to get a housemate for my spare room, so I'm naturally having people around to view the property. Now, as a general rule of thumb, I've found that if I feel uncomfortable telling someone I've got Asperger's, then to trust my instincts - as that's a pretty good sign that I shouldn't be living with that person.
But equally, if I do feel comfortable with the prospective housemate, I'm finding that 'coming out' Aspie isn't always well-received. For example: there was one professional, well-educated and worldly-wise chap who came around to view the place. We chatted, we got on, and he seemed especially eager to move in. Even though he was straight, he was absolutely unperturbed when I 'outed' myself as gay. Great. Next step was to 'out' myself as autistic. Not so great.
As soon as I mentioned it, his little eager face instantly changed to a look of uncontained horror. All of a sudden, his eagerness was gone. Funnily, a few hours later I got a text with a vague excuse that he wasn't going to accept the offer.
I've raised this with other people, (all Neurotypical I would add) - who the majority of the time instruct me that under no uncertain terms should I be telling people I'm autistic. Usually, it comes under the guise of, "well, it's none of their business."
For me, I want to be upfront and honest with whoever moves in. After all, they're going to be paying good money for the room in the house, and I would be mortified if they had felt duped in any way, or indeed, uncomfortable in their own new home. It's small house, so we will be living in close quarters, whereby my Aspergian quirks will be noted. So, there's no chance of me successfully disguising my autistic traits akin to Tourette-like tic repression. Plus, I want to feel relaxed too. To me, it's exactly the same scenario of telling them I'm gay - as it provides them with an opportunity to opt-out if they're uncomfortable at all. Ultimately, I'd much rather they were honest than politically correct - albeit, it is admittedly disheartening how off-putting the old 'autism' confession seems to frequently be.
Plus, all these (Neurotypical) folk telling me not to say anything... well, it kinda makes me feel like I should be ashamed of being autistic. It's akin to being gay in the 1950's - whereby it was acceptable to turn a blind eye to someone being a bit 'fruity', so long as they never flounced it in front of respectful and upstanding citizens. Don't ask and don't tell!
Whether it's a mutually-beneficial financial arrangement, or the start of a potential romantic arrangement, it's strikes me as being similar to 'outing' yourself a transgender, whereby the unfortunate reality is that there is no 'good' time. Tell someone at the start of a relationship, and you risk being rejected straight away due to bigotry or ignorance. Conversely, if you allow someone time to get to know you first, you risk anger and retribution, when they later feel duped and deceived (I've personal experience of this with sexual partners - who get angry and ashamed when they only later find out after the act that I'm autistic, reeling at the indignity that I somehow had an obligation to reveal my autistic status - like being HIV+ - prior to duping them into sex with a disabled person).
Ironically, I did find one Asperger's lady looking for a room. Alas though - true to the natural bent of our lot - she wanted to find somewhere to live alone!
It just got me wondering as the best time to 'out' yourself autistic (whether that's housemates, new romance or work etc)?
Do you fine divergent folk have any insightful 'coming out' tales?
Funny, as it's though the universe has just given me a personal reply to my post!...
I just had a message from one of these housemate websites I'm on. It was from a homeless guy on benefits, who was very open in how he struggled with mental health due to his schizophrenia and alcoholism. He went into (too much?) detail as to his personal quirks, like speaking Klingon, smoking a lot of weed, and being "very angry". He was apparently going to make it big with the screenplay he's writing. He seemed like a guy with a lot to deal with, who likely could've benefitted from a little understanding. Indeed, he was quite honest in how he wanted a friend.
It's funny though - as I was reading his list of quirks, in my own ignorance I found myself pulling the barriers down one-by-one. Schizophrenic? "I don't want to be put into a vulnerable position or at risk!" Alcoholic? "I can't be dealing with other people's problems!" Unemployed? "I don't want to live with a scrounger!"
Maybe there's a lesson in here for me, as well as a smattering of cosmic karma.
I have had people who are horrified that I should even mutter the word autism and that I should never ever mention it again and that I should most definitely not identify with it in any way shape or form!
I’ve had many of the ‘oh but you don’t look autistic’ comments as well as, aren’t we all a bit autistic!!!! I’ve also had, it’s only a label, it’s not who you are, this doesn’t change you!!!
I seem to be unable to stop myself from telling people and often people don’t make any comments, they’re respectful and I feel like it puts us in a better place to understand each other. By telling people, I also think I’m doing my part to spread awareness, what they do with that information is beyond my control but I think on the whole, I’d say I’ve had more positive responses, either from other people or from myself. For example, I feel that if I don’t tell people, it’s almost (not always) like I’m ashamed to be me so if I do tell people I’m autistic and get a negative response, at least I can feel good about myself for not hiding who I am. Of course some will say I’m hiding behind my diagnosis but it’s not as simple as that.
However, on the whole, I’d say, more often than not, for me, that it’s better to be up front.
Some people are honest about themselves. And quickly.
Many many years ago when I moved into a shared house and greeted the other residents. One lady told me that she was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic within 10min of meeting me.
Last week another lady in our group (group has nothing to do with mental health). Got talking to me after we left the group. Told me again within 10min that she was a high functioning aspergers. And that she noticed that I was 'different'.
I must admit, I’m often one of those people who tells you I’m autistic or whatever in the first few minutes of meeting me! lol! It’s probably to weed out the faint hearted ;)
There is always a lesson to be learned. So what have you learned from this? Are you going to give the homeless guy a chance? And what are you going to differently if you have learned anything from this situation?
All I can say is - I was 'out' to everyone, as soon as I got my diagnosis. Sure, some gave an odd response. Some, like my brother, used it as an excuse to create more distance. But then, he's a bit homophobic, too, so it's hardly surprising - even though I'm 'straight' in other senses. My attitude is 'People can think what they like. And most of them certainly seem to like what they think.' In many cases, people don't 'think' at all. Not just about this, but about all sorts of issues. They allow their newspapers, or their friends and relatives, to do their thinking for them. There's a lot of prejudice out there, and that's a hard one to tackle. Try reasoning with a prejudiced person. Pretty soon you'll hear 'Well... I'm entitled to my opinion.' No, they're not. Not really. Because it quite often isn't a proper opinion. Just a prejudice in disguise. That idiot who backed out of your house-share. I think you had a lucky escape there. Imagine if you hadn't said anything to him and he'd found out afterwards. What was he worried about, anyway? Was he afraid you might turn out to be a mass-murderer? Or that you might insist on set times for tasks? It's nonsense. As well as being autistic, I work with autistic people. The neurotypical colleagues I work with are all trained in understanding autistic behaviours, and in how to respond to them. They still get it wrong, though. They still ask me what my special talent is. They still say things like 'Oh, that's not autism. Everyone gets anxiety.' And so on, ad nauseum.
It still doesn't stop me from coming out about it, though. In some ways, I want people to see me as 'normal' in their eyes. Holding down a job, managing a budget, driving a car, living independently... and being autistic. Hopefully, it can help to dispel some of the myths.
I, too, have had one or two NT friends tell me that I shouldn't keep telling everyone. That I shouldn't keep posting stuff on social media about it. My response has always been 'Why not? Should I be ashamed of it, then? Should I hide it and keep up a pretence, just to please you? Does it embarrass you to be seen to be friends with an Aspie?' If so, they can go take a running jump! I adapt myself enough to fit into their world as best I can. Surely, they can make allowances for me.
I suppose there is an argument for being selective about who you tell. But my thought about that is, if I don't say anything, and then find myself in a difficult or compromising situation, what then? I've told all the employers I've had, since my diagnosis, that I'm autistic. That way, they can't say they haven't been forewarned. So, if something goes wrong, it's not like I've misled them.
Relationships? They've always been problematic for me - and I now think that my autism has been at the root of many of the problems. Since my diagnosis, 2 years ago, I haven't had a relationship - apart from the one I was in at the time, which broke up because I simply couldn't tolerate my then partner's untidiness, laziness... and refusal to accept me for an autistic person, and consequently her refusal to take account of it and adapt. The only way I'd now have a relationship is on the basis of non-cohabitation. And any prospective partner would be told at the outset about my autism. I'm not going to hold back that information. It wouldn't be fair on them, nor would it be fair to myself. It's who I am. I embrace it. If they can't... than they're not right for me, and it will only lead to problems along the line. Quite frankly, I'd sooner be alone than go through that grief.
Well... those are my thoughts, anyway. I hope things soon work out for you with finding a house-sharer.
Be proud of who you are!
All the best,
The paranoid schizophrenic, definitely said it to weed out the faint hearted. She made that clear. Her attitude was. This is who I am. If you don't like it. F. OFF.
The high functioning aspergers from last week. Took me by surprise. We were walking together towards the city centre after the session. And she just brought it into the conversation. I admitted I was autistic and it turns out we both attended the same diagnostic centre.
That is a funny thought, thinking that Evan would start to dictate how the lodger behaves, for example, lights out at 10 pm, shower in a morning at 8 am for precisely 7 minutes, only 30 minutes in the kitchen at set times, only certain food allowed in the house etc. And all rules to be carried out with military precision. ;) that really tickled me :-D
'DON'T put that in the general rubbish bin! If you wash it, it can be recycled.'
'But I ALWAYS have the TV at volume setting 23.'
'Look... this is the way to peel a potato.'
Maybe saying that he had a 'Rainman' ability with card games and fruit machines might have swung it!
Hahahaha that is so funny and yes, I reckon disclosing that he had a Rainman ability with cards and fruit machines might have swung it. I could entertain myself with these thoughts for hours! No, not like that, do it like this!!! Turn those cans of food around so they’re facing the right way! I think it would make a good show. Get the homeless guy in and he’ll turn it into a screenplay. The only thing that would put me off about him would be the alcohol, just because I’m not keen on being around people who have been drinking a lot of alcohol. Otherwise, he sounds like the ideal tenant.