Neurotypicals are fascinating creatures, they perform strange social rituals and talk in riddles and then (rather arrogantly) expect us to conform to these confusing norms that they have invented.
A major problem with these norms is that they seem to be ever-changing. Neurotypicals are very handily able to read social cues with far more ease than us autistics, not making this any major challenge for them, but for us the ever-changing goal posts of social normality (such as one behaviour being socially normative in one situation but not in another) can be utterly baffling and extremely isolating. It can make socialising very difﬁcult; loneliness can become a big problem for us.
A lot of neurotypicals quite often dislike making “special accommodation” (reasonable adjustments) for us. For example, giving us advance warning about change, extra time on tests, giving speciﬁc instructions, or using language that is clear, and so on. While as autistics we, every day, are required to amend our behaviour in order make special accommodation for neurotypicals. We are constantly required to ﬁt their norms. This can be exhausting.
We are expected to talk at the right times, be quiet at the right times. Learn and memorise hundreds of metaphors and idioms. We can’t be too literal, we can’t be too blunt, we are told it is rude.
We are expected to talk at the right times, be quiet at the right times. Learn and memorise hundreds of metaphors and idioms.
We can’t go on and on about our special interest(s), it is “weird”, it is “boring”. We are told again and again, “Look at me,” “It’s polite to make eye contact,” when for some on the spectrum making eye contact can even cause physical pain. “It’s a joke!” “It’s banter!” The list is endless. Yet when an autistic person has a meltdown in response to the pressure of having to sustain such a high level of neurotypical normativity it comes as a surprise or shock to the neurotypicals passing by and the autistic often ﬁnds themselves being told that they are “over-reacting” or having a “tantrum”.
Society is built for neurotypicals. As autistics the world can be a messy place. Viewing an unordered world with a brain wired for order can be challenging (at the best of times) but there is plenty that neurotypicals can do for us to make living in a neurotypical world less confusing or lonely. This may be meeting your autistic friend in places with minimum sensory distractions or using clearer or more literal language when talking with them. Or even just asking about their special interest(s). What is helpful for one person on the spectrum may not be for another (and vice versa) so the best thing to do is ask your autistic friend, relative or acquaintance if there is anything that you could do (or not do) they would ﬁnd helpful.
Viewing an unordered world with a brain wired for order can be challenging.
As someone on the spectrum, I am simply asking that neurotypicals are more understanding and willing to make reasonable adjustments for us. As autistics are constantly expected to accommodate neurotypicals.