(Sparkly maybe don’t read, at least not until later. It’s not bad and it’s not about you, just kind of serious and thinky.)
(The link goes to a Tumblr post discussing a website that, in a nutshell, claims that autistic people are inherently harmful to everyone they try to form relationships with.)
Talkng about social communication difficulties.
The thing about social communication difficulties is that before they even become relevant, before you even get to having difficulties with communication, you have to believe it’s okay to communicate honestly and authentically about how you feel.
And we (autistic people/people with Asperger’s) are in a million explicit and subtle ways taught that that’s not okay.
They really are taking a problem that is mainly caused by the ways that autistic people are harmed, and blaming it on us instead.
Like, yeah, some autistic people learn socially expected behavior by rote and do it just because it’s what they’re supposed to do, and they don’t necessarily mean what they’re expressing, or they do mean it but they don’t get why that specific action is the way to express what they mean. That’s because people literally put us in classes and tell us to do that.
And even when it’s not that explicit– here are some relationship-related examples–
It’s not socially acceptable, as an adult man, to say that you aren’t going to get married because you aren’t interested in romantic or sexual relationships.
It’s not socially acceptable to say that you don’t understand how looking someone in the eyes could be romantic and you wouldn’t want to do it.
It’s not socially acceptable to say that you might like a relationship, but you don’t see the appeal of traditional romantic things, so you would never buy someone roses or jewelry, you think it’s more meaninful to buy them practical things for their job or hobby.
People generally aren’t going to react positively to these kinds of things. They’re going to react with disbelief, or dismissal (“of course you want to get married, everyone does, you’ll change your mind”), or judgment (“you better not believe that, that’s heartless/unnatural/against God’s plan”), or medicalization (“there must be something wrong with your hormones” / “you should see a therapist and get over your issues with romance”).
Even assuming a hypothetical man with Asperger’s recognizes these things in himself and knows what kind of relationship he wants or is capable of having before he gets into one (something plenty of NT people don’t know in advance either, anyway) he’s still under a lot of pressure to not admit those things, to instead try as hard as possible to fit into what’s expected. There’s pressure on everyone in our society to have traditional heteronormative relationships, and there’s extra pressure on autistic people, who are often noticeably abnormal in a lot of small ways, to try to make up that “deficit” by being as normal as possible in every way.
And that “assuming he knows what he wants/needs” is a big assumption. When you’ve been taught all your life that acting normal is paramount, and that you’re not supposed to want anything besides what’s normal and if you do it’s surely gross and wrong– how the fuck are you supposed to communicate honestly and authentically if even considering that you might want something that’s Not Normal feels like abject failure?
Communication problems are a real thing. But the worst “communication problem” I had, for most of my life, was that I had learned by painful experience that communicating with my peers was not about communicating. It was about being tested on how normal I was. Talking candidly about how I feel about things, what I want, what I like, is still viscerally terrifying to me in certain situations.
I do have actual problems with communication, which I think I’ve been improving on in lots of ways, and I can see my way to improving even more. But before I could start to address those problems with communication, I had to stop being afraid of communication. I had to be aware that communication was even a possibility, and growing up as an undiagnosed “high-functioning” autistic taught me very clearly that it was not.