“However, I have taught him to express his issues in a positive manner that does not bring other people down or effect their opinion of him in a negative manner”.
An abusive mother of an autistic child tone polices me for the umpteenth time. I was taught something much like what she describes, because that tone she so much enjoyed blaming me for had a habit of affecting people’s opinions of me in a negative manner and bringing them down, no matter how much I needed it not to. I was not taught on matters of autism that I had a right to a “no”, or the ideas behind “please stop, you’re hurting me”. I was taught that I only had a right to those things if I didn’t offend or upset people, because it was of course my fault that they hurt me.
That’s why sometimes, I want to hit. There is a world of terrible, unexplored possibilities in that phrase, but sometimes, I have an urge to brave them. To hit. The word goes through my chest as a wave of snapshotted, imagined horrors all slightly peeking out from behind the first, like playing cards that have become small photographs, crested with the nightmare lurch of anxiety that warns of an imminent plunge.
Because hitting is the worst thing you can possibly do.
You are autistic, you are tactless and rude and weird and (waste of space) offensive, (you can’t do anything right) and you have no right to hit. You have no right to “no” or “stop” if the way you say it offends, and hitting would be the greatest offense possible, and so you must never, ever hit. You are autistic, you are supposed to quietly suffer and be submissive to the allistic people, lest you offend them, not to hit.
If you hit, you will be like Cathy’s son, who is autistic, and he is angry sometimes and so he has stepped atop that lurch-crested wave and plunged into the realm of being a monster, because he hit. You imagine him as being silent, still, waiting, arms out diagonally, ready to hit. Monsterous and with great, awful claws. You hate that you’ve done that, inflicted that dreadful image on the idea of a human being. But you can’t help it. You have been taught well.
Yet still, despite all that, you sometimes want to hit. Because “no” and “stop” are power, and dignity, and control over your life. From some people, they strike home with devastating weight, and for others they merely invoke the desire to respect someone as a human being, but for you they were ethereal things that dissipated against other people.
Or at least they seemed so to you. To them, they must have been worse, because they got angry.
Now, they are a little better. Sometimes they set off an argument that sometimes results in it stopping. When you dare to use them, which is rare. The one constant is that using them is no more than a momentary defiance borne on an instant of utter rage, and that their success doesn’t feel like you did this at all. It feels like one of those luck based missions in a game, where you know you only won because the AI let you.
Just by staying in the game, in that mission, you gave the AI that power over you, and you succeeded (not won, never won) on its terms, because you sat there and let it exercise power over you to piss you the hell off for as long as it damn well liked to buy your success from it. That’s what my no being accepted by ableists is like.
I stay in the framework of a submissive, held-as-inferior autistic, even if I momentarily hide that from both of us with my anger, and they can consider whether to allow me to get what I need or want. But if I were to hit? I’m no longer a submissive, held-as-inferior autistic. Don’t say it barely changes my position, I know that. We talk of allistic classifications here.
Thus, I become something different. I become that hunched, waiting thing, that monster that I imagine Cathy’s son to look like sometimes. I become one of the dangerous autistics, one of the violent ones, one of the ones who doesn’t stay quiet and submissive to their betters. In psycho and crazy and all the myriad fucked-up concepts that make up this myth, I become frightening.
It’s a fantasy, of course. As my more dedicated readers might know, I’m 5.3, 98 pounds, my bones react to the stress of hitting air with crushing, glassy agony and I lack the strength to do three push ups. Maybe if I was taller, and wider, and non-verbal (have to fit the stereotype) and even broader shouldered than I am now, I might get near it. I might be frightening after actually hitting in a manner that did damage.
But what would that get me? What’s frightening and the ability to hit next to some men in white coats, if those fabled icons of institutional-toned, ableism-toting abduction do indeed exist in place of a more mundane alternative? I doubt they do, they probably have women and a few non binary folk for one thing, but there’s no difference anyhow.
Frightening and hitting are still good only for involuntarily purchasing some extra restraint and perhaps some extra abuse for good measure, against them. If I could even use the latter, which I couldn’t. I wouldn’t even be able to be angry at them until they started hurting me, let alone fight, because that’s how my emotions work. I was never made for hitting, or fighting, or even resisting.
But, hey, it’s a fantasy. A daydream. Some people daydream about high school crushes, some people daydream about being rich, or having godlike power. Me? I daydream about having a no, a stop, and some power over my life. Occasionally. Mostly, I just daydream about being someone else, and people not using their power over me for abuse, because some days I can’t seperate the two and the idea of actually being allowed any power myself is so new and different that it makes me anxious.
But at least I didn’t bring any allistic people down, right?