Good morning, Deepthought.
I haven't read the article yet, but I have to say I'm in broad agreement with the points as you've cited them above. It's interesting that many people over the years - and particularly so since my diagnosis and my openness with everyone about it - have spoken to me about my seemingly deep understanding and insights, both about my own condition and place in the world and about that of others, including NTs. I know that opinion is divided on the 'empathy' issue. Recombinantsocks once said that an autistic person discussing empathy is like a blind art critic. I think I can see his point. It's like a heterosexual discussing how it must be to be homosexual. I don't think, though, it necessarily means that we can't show empathy. People say to me that I can't be autistic because I work in care. That's nonsense! I usually point out that there's a world of difference between caring for someone and caring about them. Having said that, I do sincerely believe that life as a neurodiverse individual has exposed me to more traumas and difficulties than would be the case for an NT, so I've therefore developed a response to them that might seem 'cold' and 'detached' to anyone else. Much as I loved my mother, and much as I miss her, I've never really shed any tears at her passing, and I stood up at her funeral and delivered a eulogy as easily as if I'd been doing an ordinary bit of public speaking. I've written a book about our time together and have just read it back for the first time, and feel detached in a way that for many people might seem, again, cold. Yet I feel very deeply about it - and about many other things. I can feel crushed at seeing a dead rat at the side of the road, or a flower thoughtlessly trampled underfoot by someone in passing.
I think, too, it's this 'understanding', if you like, that's made me a writer. I've spent my entire life on the outside looking in - like someone out in a dark street looking through a window at a crowded bar. I see things, perhaps, that others take for granted - and thus don't notice. At work, I sometimes pick up on things - a sound, a pattern, a trait - that others miss. Maybe it's about a heightened sensitivity of perception. Maybe it's simply how I'm programmed. I may not understand huge amounts about human behaviour. I can't, for instance, ever pick out a character's motives in fiction or film, and I'm always a target for confidence tricksters and leg-pullers. But I have a certain understanding, I think...
Yes, I've seen that before and can quite well identify with it. Like with the Christmas party example. When asked I told someone I'm not coming because I don't really like that sort of thing and that I've eventually figured out now that other people actually genuinely enjoy being there, talking for hours about nothing, drinking too much, wearing clothes that can't possibly be comfortable in a physical sense, dancing potentially, all that stuff. Apparently it's strange that it took me until now to figure out, but then many people find it just as unbelievable that I do not enjoy these things. Somehow their lack of understanding is normal though, because I'm weird, whereas mine is weird, because they are normal...
I think of it a little, too, like someone being suddenly being dumped in a country whose language, culture and ethos is entirely alien to them. What choice do they have but to find a way to survive in it, using whatever knowledge and other tools at their disposal to reach some kind of commonality. Whereas the natives of that country... why should they bother to understand this one stranger in their midst? It's like the argument put forward by some that people shouldn't come to our country unless they can speak the language first (although if we go to their country for a holiday, we expect them to understand English and English customs!)
Same here. And, of course, if you don't go to the party, you're anti-social!
Luckily, having the bonus of being new, it seems people here are o.k. with this, they just genuinely think I miss out on something, and they are worried I'm only not coming because of too much Norwegian and try to reassure and persuade me.