Profile picture
, 35 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
I don't know what a hot take is but maybe hot take I guess: most allistic attempts to teach autistic people "social skills" are just attempts to teach us THEIR social skills, with little to no reciprocal effort on their part to learn about autistic social skills.
Also possibly a hot take: autistic and allistic people are each better at certain types of socialising and each group can be said to have specific social skills. Neither group is superior to the other, despite the relentless portrayal of autistic people as having "deficits".
Someone please explain what a hot take is: any allistic person who doesn't acknowledge that autistic people DO have social skills - just different ones - and that autistics are actually, on the whole, better at some forms of communication, is ableist.
Take so hot it's really quite distressing: any attempt to teach autistic people "social skills" that doesn't involve recognising and encouraging autistic ways of socialising, that only teaches allistic ways, is merely a (possibly well-intentioned) suppression of who we are.
I may have to take my clothes off what with the hotness of these takes: allistic people, even when well-intentioned, pretty much universally fail autistic people unless they are actually listening to autistic people and allowing our lived experience to inform their actions.
Significantly more than tepid take: Autistics are often good at directness / honesty, detail / precision / accuracy, being literal and straightforward, openness and not being restrained by arbitrary social norms, avoiding groupthink and similar phenomenons, etc.
I'm really sweating because of these hot takes, send ice packs: Allistic perceptions of autistic people are so entrenched in the idea of us being broken versions of them that they usually fail to see that, though we struggle with some things, we are actually better at some too.
I didn't know humans could boil until this hot take but here we are, my tweets may stop soon but it's all ok: It is not superior, merely accurate and nuanced, to say that autistic people are, on the whole, better at some things, equal at some, and worse at some.
Okay, enough with the heat, things got worrisome there: Frankly, I am suspect of most times allistic people take on teaching roles to autistic people, because so many act as though they are nobly guiding the poor little disabled people who have no skills of their own.
There is nothing wrong with helping autistic people to understand the ways allistic socialising works. Frankly, a lot of us need to understand in order to be safe. And learning about other people is generally a good thing anyway. But that's the point. That's the whole damn point.
Allistic people generally DON'T learn about us. So often, so damn often, it is all about them educating us, but not learning from us, them teaching us their ways of being but not even acknowledging that our ways exist, or treating ours as deficient and incomplete.
If you intend to teach an autistic person about "social skills", make damn sure that you're including autistic social skills in there, that you're not pathologising or punishing autistic ways of socialising (such as consistent honesty), and that you're teaching yourself and...
...other allistic people around you about autistic ways of socialising. I am damn tired of autistics being forced to learn about allistics when most allistics make zero effort to learn about us, and just treat their ways of being as the only ones or the right ones.
We will not be equal, or even remotely safe and free, until allistic people are taught about autistic social skills just as much as autistics are taught about allistic ones.
Oh, and if you want us to understand your ways, actually explain, don't just expect us to know.
Stop framing our qualities negatively. Stop calling our honesty "brutal" and "blunt" when it's just consistent and not wrapped in social niceties. Stop calling us "stupid" or "unresponsive" if we don't respond immediately - maybe I'm actually taking time to think it over.
And realise that every single conversation I have EVER had, except ones with other autistic people, has happened in allistic ways. You have EVERYTHING. From the basic social norm of routinely asking "How are you?" and lying in response, to the way conversations are structured...
...pretty much every single aspect of every single interaction is done your way. Start compromising or don't pretend you care about our equality.
For example, quite a few of us struggle with quick back-and-forth conversations. They are hard for me to process and keep up with.
Especially if more than two of us are involved. I prefer conversations where each person gets to talk for quite a while, to explore all their thoughts openly until they're finished, then there's a moment for us all to process and think over it, to check we've understood fully,
ask questions, etc. Then it's someone else's turn to talk and they go for as long as they need to. No-one gets interrupted, and everyone gets to explore their thoughts fully instead of getting cut off and ending up forgetting stuff they wanted to say.
But this is not The Allistic Way, so it gets framed as a bad thing. If I want to talk for quite a while, I'm portrayed as trying to dominate the conversation. If I want to listen for quite a while - which is still contributing to a conversation btw - I'm apparently unresponsive..
...or even not listening at all, the opposite of what I'm actually doing.
You don't know how distressing and painful interruptions and topic changes can feel to some autistics. It feels like someone has just yanked me sideways and dropped me somewhere. All of my thoughts are
left back where I was before and I probably won't get any of them back. I feel lost, like I'm floundering, like I was just ripped away from my own thoughts. I NEED to be able to express all my thoughts fully if I'm to be able to contribute to a conversation at my full potential.
But, outside of autistic spaces, I have NEVER (to my memory) had a conversation like that. Because allistic people shut it down so fast, and act like I'm being horrifically rude, just for wanting to express things fully or listen without talking for a while. The latter is
especially bizarre, since people go on about how important listening is, but then assume I'm zoned out and not listening if I actually do listen without interrupting for a while. Actually, it's also hypocritical to talk about listening but to be unwilling to listen to me.
I'm trying to show you here that even though conversation styles that are predominantly allistic are uncomfortable, distressing, and sometimes even painful for me, I have conformed to them my whole life. Because if I don't, it's anything from rejection to abuse.
Autistic people spend our lives conforming to allistic ways of socialising / communicating, with almost zero reciprocal effort, and then allistic people have the audacity to talk about how we don't reciprocate socially and how they have to teach us social skills.
We are compromising who we are just to be safe in your world. The smallest effort you could make in return is to throw out your prejudiced notions about us not being able to socialise, and actually make an effort to learn autistic social skills.
If you're teaching autistic people allistic social skills, but not teaching allistic people autistic social skills...yeah, you're just prioritising allistic ways of being and upholding the erasure of our diverse, interesting, COMMUNICATIVE culture. And guess what? That's ableism.
A vital thing for allistics to realise is that we often ARE responding just in ways you don't recognise, and if we're truly not, it's probably because we're struggling to process, don't realise we're expected to, or are exhausted by living in your world and don't have the energy.
And allistic people are just as bad at understanding us as we are at them. This is finally starting to be empirically proven. Autistics are good at communicating with autistics, and allistics with allistics. We're BOTH iffy at communicating with each other. It is a two-way thing.
Autistic people are not the deficit to your whole, the absence to your presence, the simple to your complex. We communicate just as much as you, only differently. The fact that so many allistics don't realise it shows that difficulty understanding each other goes both ways.
And it's ok if you don't understand our ways of socialising straight away. I don't blame anyone for not understanding something. The problem is if you pathologise, punish, or deny our ways, and don't bother to learn about them. We should BOTH learn about each other.
And while I think of it, diagnostic criteria are usually hugely outdated and stereotypical, and present a very inaccurate view of us. When someone write about autistics with the perspective that we're "disordered", they end up portraying us negatively. Who knew?
So please, for the love of fudge, don't get your ideas about autistic communication from diagnostic manuals, charities run by allistic people, the media, etc. Actually talk to us, and esp listen. You will learn how we communicate, by actually communicating with us.
Another really important thing I should mention: autistics, don't do this to other autistics either. Don't treat autistic people of colour, non-verbal autistic people, non-Native English speakers, etc like their ways of communicating / socialising are wrong.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Alex Zelasi
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!