A couple of days ago, I wrote a comment on one of my friend’s Facebook status in response to a Neurotypical (NT) attempting to gaslight their experience with Special Interests (sometimes referred to as a Sp-In or Sp-Ins [pronounced “spin” or “spins”]).
Basically my friend wrote about how they were shamed out of sharing their Special Interest at a young age by the adults and peers in their life because the intensity of their Special Interest was apparently “too much” for these people. One of these adults decided it was ok to attempt to gaslight their experience by saying stuff along the lines of “it was annoying how often you would bring up [insert Sp-In].”
As someone who has been in a similar situation regarding Special Interests (I will write about this someday – but it might take a while because it’s a LONG story), I couldn’t just sit by and let this person gaslight my friend without at least ATTEMPTING to bridge the communication gap that so often happens in “neurotypical-to-neurodivergent” interactions.
My job as an Autistic advocate is to educate and attempt to translate Autistic and Neurodivergent cultural and communication practices into ways that NTs can understand. Am I always successful in my endeavors – no. But I keep trying anyway because “every barrier that Autistics adults breakdown today is one that Autistic children will not face tomorrow.” (source for quote listed below in image caption)
Fortunately this time my endeavor was worth it. After I posted the comment, at least 6 other people (7 including my friend) liked my comment, and the person who was gaslighting my friends stopped responding 😂. Best of all, my friend learned something new about themselves 😍. And for me, that is my ultimate goal. If someone learns something new about themselves and/or someone they care about from my advocacy work, I have done my job. I love sharing my knowledge with people and it makes me feel so good when people have an “Aha!” moment while I’m sharing my knowledge.
Now for the moment of truth. Below is the comment I left on my friend’s status in response to a NT adult attempting to gaslight them. I hope you learn something by reading this ☺️:
“Yes and no!
Yes, Autistics have a different processing style. We also have our own unique style of communicating. This is part of our culture – Autistic culture. (Yes- Autistics have their own culture and it should be respected just like any other culture)
In Autistic culture, it is polite to infodump about our Special Interest.
Also, our Special Interest give us intense joy, and when you tell a child to minimize themselves in regards to their special interest, you minimize their joy.
Instead of insisting children assimilate into Neurotypical culture, how about take the time to learn about Autistic and Neurodivergent culture and let’s learn to meet in the middle.
Yes, I know all of this happened in the past, and I’m not holding that against you or anyone else. I still think that it’s important to learn and grow every day. Like Maya Angelou once said “When you know better, you do better.”
And what a better day to learn about Autistic culture than today on #AutismAcceptanceDay. (My comment was posted on 4/2/21 – which is Autism Acceptance Day)
Please read this about the JOY that our Special Interests bring us:
Read this about different communication styles:
Thank you 💕.“
As a bonus, here’s a link from of one of my all time favorite bloggers, “A Diary of a Mom,” which explains how one of the links I shared (The Obsessive Joy of Autism – by Julia Bascom) was the catalyst for helping them understand their Autistic daughter and the importance of Neurodiversity. THIS is the power of education!: