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?