Autistic in the Neurotypical Gauntlet3 min read

Something I’ve strug­gled with for the entirety of my life is devel­oping an iden­tity for myself. Throughout life, I’ve been bul­lied, trau­ma­tized, teased, tricked, fooled, and aggres­sively attacked by mul­tiple groups of people. As a result, I’ve devel­oped a shell that keeps me safe from neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals looking for a victim. 

At the age of 11 or 12, like most other chil­dren, I began to improve my out­ward appear­ance and develop my inward iden­tity. Any attempt I made to develop my iden­tity was meet with resis­tance by either family, peers, fake friends, or tor­mented teachers with a power com­plex looking for an easy target.

I would be pushed fur­ther into exile by a strange series of events. They would say, “Just because you brush your hair and put on trendy clothes, it doesn’t make you any better of a person.” “You’re inca­pable of lis­tening to instruc­tion.” “You’re such a ter­rible person.” I was dev­as­tated, destroyed, and thrown away; I pulled away.

While alone and iso­lated from my peers, through no fault of my own, I freed my mind and began building my iden­tity. The people con­stantly telling me I’m wrong– their voices in my head started to move into the back­ground. Their voices are now fully insignif­i­cant to my life goals.

Knowing even­tu­ally I’d have to atone for rumors started by those with the power of influ­ence, who thought I would be an easy victim, I started building my mental defenses.

It took some time for me to even­tu­ally under­stand neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals don’t know any­thing about autism. They’re just as lost as we are with trying to explain what being autistic really means. They’re trying to define it. My clin­ical def­i­n­i­tion is, “Our emo­tional states don’t align with neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals.” We’re “off beat” with each other, some might say.

Neurotypical indi­vid­uals are wor­ried about Autistic indi­vid­uals not being able to com­mu­ni­cate back with them. They’re driven by results more and more with any kind of small suc­cess, too scared to let us ven­ture out­ward, explore on our own, or develop our own ideas that may chal­lenge their ideas.

To me, being Autistic is being able to endure the emo­tional whiplash of neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals who fail to manage their own feel­ings. They will gang up and destroy our lives based on a lie if that lie has enough momentum behind it. They will push us until we start pushing them back.

Autistics are loyal, inter­ested, and devoted to com­mu­ni­cating with peers. We intrin­si­cally share empathy and com­pas­sion, and actively avoid ques­tion­able situations.…just like neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals. We’re just like you, but we’re “off beat.”

When I had to commit to a ques­tion­able sit­u­a­tion, I gave it my best. With cau­tion, I tra­versed the gauntlet and took the hits because I knew what it was like to be in the dark­ness, to sur­vive alone, to thrive and learn from the mis­takes of others.

I made my mis­takes fully aware there would be a response, and I hoped that response would tell me exactly what was wrong with my com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It wasn’t you who diag­nosed me, it was me who came to you for help without my knowing how to ask you for help.

I am no longer iso­lated. I still love. I still care. I’m still learning. I’m still building. Best of all, your gauntlet taught me how to com­mu­ni­cate with Autistic and neu­rotyp­ical alike.

Let’s all build some­thing together.

Latest posts by jbcurtin (see all)

3 Comments

  1. So many of us have run that gauntlet, not all making it through. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. It’s as I like to say,
    “Ordinary people may think out­side the box, whereas we autistic people live and exist out­side the box. 🤗

  3. You do not have to be autistic to be the victim of bul­lying. Kids and many adults will pick on any­body who is per­ceived to be ‘dif­ferent’ from the norm.
    Personally I think that is is caused by their own feeling of lack of self-worth. To make them selves feel better, they find someone who is per­ceived as a easy target.
    do NOT rely on teaches to help — some teachers can be good but most, event though they try to help will make it worse.

Talk to us... what are you thinking?