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I'm damn tired of allistics reading into autistics' words, tone, body language, etc and then blaming us for what they assumed was there (but wasn't really). I'm damn tired of us being shamed into apologising for things we didn't do, because allistics jumped to conclusions.
I'm damn tired of seeing autistics accused of gaslighting just for explaining that they never said / did something when they're telling the truth; the other person just read into their words / actions and saw something that wasn't actually there.
I'm damn tired of allistics setting up a world where people imply unkind things, don't say what they mean, etc. And then them assuming that we're participating in that world and implying things too, when we're not. If we had something mean to say, we'd probably just say it.
I'm tired of seeing so many arguments, even in fiction, based upon people making assumptions about each others' intent, meaning, body language, tone, facial expressions, etc and jumping to so many conclusions instead of actually clarifying what the other meant.
I'm tired of people assuming that open emotion is manipulation, that honesty has hidden subtext, that not making eye contact means not listening, etc. I'm tired of people inserting their own meanings into things and then blaming us for those inserts as though we did them.
I'm tired of people not taking time to cool off if necessary, then communicating openly to establish whether everyone understood each other fully. I'm tired of people being unwilling to consider that they might have imagined a slight.
I'm tired of perceived slights being weaponised instead of examined to ensure that they really happened. I'm tired of 'impact is more important than intent' being turned into 'intent doesn't matter at all'.
I'm tired of people twisting literal statements into nasty, implication-laden things and then punishing the literal speaker for things they may never have actually implied.
I'm tired of "Well, that's how I perceived it" being used as justification for punishing someone who didn't actually do the thing the other person perceived. I'm tired of blame being laid entirely with one person and the other not examining their own perception of things.
I'm tired of people jumping to anger and confrontation immediately, without taking a moment to consider that their perception of a situation might not be accurate, and there might be other ways to interpret the situation.
I'm tired of seeing autistics being told that they're "making excuses" or "trying to avoid responsibility" when they're actually standing up for themselves and not taking false accusations and unfair blame.
And I'm tired of seeing autistics being told they're "using autism as an excuse" when they say, "I'm autistic, I don't imply things. What I said was exactly what I meant; there's nothing more to it." They are telling the truth, almost certainly.
I'm tired of allistic people's perception of things being held up as the default and as indubitably correct, and autistic people being punished for allistic perception, not actual autistic action.
And I am tired from the years I've spent socially isolated and in fear of these situations, because I saw this happening to other autistic people again and again and became afraid to talk at all lest people read into my words and punish me for implications they invented.
And I am tired of even "allies" saying that, in situations like this, it's a two-way issue. No. If someone makes assumptions about what I mean, instead of making the tiniest effort to clarify, and then punishes me for what they assumed, that is on them.
I'm tired of autistic people's honest communication being twisted, and then us having to apologise for things we never did because other people don't check their own perception before confronting. Ask yourself, "Am I reading meaning into this? Is this a literal interpretation?"
I'm tired of the acute, constant awareness that so many of my community are socially isolated, anxious, afraid, self-punishing, over-apologetic, perfectionist, etc because of things like this. Because we are constantly treated as having done things that we didn't actually do.
Allistic people, I don't want your input on this thread. Thank you if you were going to be supportive, but I want this to be an autistic-only space right now. I need that.
I spent my childhood compulsively apologetic and submissive because of this nonsense. People misperceived me and read their own meanings into things, then punished me for it. I was punished further if I (even politely) asked for explanations.
I just wanted to understand what I had done wrong, but would be told things like, "You know perfectly well what you did." or, "Don't pretend you don't know."
But I didn't know. Because, so often, I hadn't actually done what they assumed I had.
Sometimes they would assume that I meant the exact opposite of what I said, which still makes so little sense to me. And they didn't explain why they assumed things like that. I was just ostracised, shouted at, punished, even abused for meanings they invented.
As an abused child, I was extremely submissive and don't recall fighting back against this until at least my teenage years, and even then not much. I took so much unjust scorn and harm.
Then I found the autistic community and started to piece together what had been going on. It helped me to become more assertive. But just as I started gaining the courage to participate more in socialising and conversations, I started seeing this happening to other autistics.
I had spent years as a teenager and young adult highly isolated, barely communicating with anyone. And I was finally healing enough to start talking again, but then I saw other autistics having their words and actions read into and being punished time and time again.
I saw these conversations in public and then them melting down and panicking in autistic support groups, scrutinising themselves and opening themselves to scrutiny from others to try to find what they did wrong, blaming themselves, feeling horribly guilty.
Enough times, I saw both the original conversation, and the resulting panic attack expressed in an autistic space where they felt safe being open about their distress and confusion. And I can tell you, a lot of the time they did not do what other people were punishing them for.
I saw autistic people kicked out of spaces they needed, dogpiled, accused of all kinds of things. Usually without any time or effort given to clarifying things, to even slightly questioning whether they were being incorrectly vilified.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we never do harm or that we should never be punished for anything. Autistic people can absolutely be harmful, can be cruel, petty, spiteful, prejudiced, etc. And we should be held responsible for those things.
But allistic people, if they give any kind of a damn about us, NEED to be examining their own perceptions of situations too. Question whether what someone said / did can be interpreted in a different, particularly a more literal, way.
Remember that so many sentences can mean multiple things, and that your interpretation is often not the only possible one.
And while you have every right to be hurt or bothered by something, please do not jump to punitive treatment if there's even the slightest chance that what you perceived is incorrect. You don't have to be the one communicating with us; if you need space, that's ok.
It's always ok to walk away from someone, to get out of a conversation if you need to (though I'd really appreciate it if people gave at least a brief explanation of why). But there's a difference between that and jumping to punishing someone for a perceived wrongdoing.
What allistics need to understand is that this happens to a lot of autistic people on an almost daily basis, often more than once a day. We are punished for things other people imagined we did, for implications we never implied, for subtext when we only sent text.
And those allistic perceptions are pretty much always given priority status above what we actually said / did, and if we try to defend ourselves we're accused of minimising / gaslighting / making excuses / etc.
In law, I believe that everyone should have the right to defend themselves against an accusation. I believe that for social situations too. If someone is hurt / angered / etc by something someone else said, they're not obligated to be the one listening. But someone should.
Because the problem is, as things are now, autistic people can be completely silenced, denied ability to defend ourselves against these everyday accusations, and we are pretty much always assumed to be wrong.
I've been scared while writing these tweets, and I'm still scared to participate in social situations because of just how often I see other people's words being read into and them being punished for it. I have barely talked to people for years because of things like this.
Do not underestimate the impact this can have on autistic people's self-image, our confidence, etc.
We are very unlikely to be implying anything.
We are very likely to mean precisely what we say, nothing else.
If, at some point, I do have the courage to socialise, I want it to be known that when I say things, they are just observations, not implications of worth. Observations, not subtext about what I "really think". Observations, not sneaky metaphors. My words are just what they are.
I'm tired. I'm tired. I'm tired.
I'm tired of knowing so many autistic people don't talk because they know their words will, sooner more likely than later, be twisted from regular honesty into something unpleasant.
I'm tired of getting to the point where my confidence is high enough to try socialising again, only to see examples of what I've described here happening all around me, making me too scared to actually attempt socialising, so I retreat back into isolation.
I'm tired of feeling like I would have to modify my honesty, to try and phrase it in ways palatable to allistic people, in order to not be accused of being rude, inappropriate, sarcastic, etc.
I'm invigorated by being able to say precisely what I mean to other autistic people, but this being something I only have online, and being surrounded by allistic perceptions, rather than what actually is, everywhere.
I'm tired of knowing that it is entirely possible to have honest, straightfoward conversations in which no-one makes a single assumption about anyone else.
And knowing that I will never live in a world where that is the norm.
I'm tired of not knowing WHY so many people jump to so many conclusions, make so many accusations based on social rules that are arbitrary (politeness is a culture and generation specific concept, not set in stone, folks).
I'm tired of being scared every time I post online, even about completely random, innocent things, because I'm worried someone will read some meaning into it and be angry at me. I'm tired of not having the confidence or support to know what to do if that happens.
I'm tired of every conversation, every post, having an element of anxiety in it, because I never know when I'm going to be back in that childhood situation, that situation I see other autistics in, at the mercy of allistic perception.
I'm tired of the assumption that someone is implying something nasty being prioritised over the idea that maybe, just maybe, someone is being honest and straightforward and decent.
And I'm tired of the world making it logical to believe the former.
I'm tired of being anxious. I'm tired of being a social contortionist to try to be accepted. I'm tired of being held to arbitrary social rules. I'm tired of autistics' words being read into.
I'm tired of being tired.
I'm tired of being tired.
I know it's hard, when you've been hurt, angered, etc by something, to think that maybe it might have been as a result of your own perception and not something the other person actually did. But we need to acknowledge that such a situation is possible.
Unless someone is doing something unavoidably bad, like using slurs, we need to take a moment to first ask ourselves whether their words / actions could mean anything different to what we thought they meant. Especially if you know your emotions are based on something they seem
to have done, not something on the surface of their words / action. Implications are a Seem, body language is a Seem, conformity to what any specific society deems polite / appropriate is a Seem. Only their actual words / actions are Definite.
If you get the impression that they mean something other than what they're saying, their tone is accusative / sarcastic / etc, their body language indicates that they're not listening, or anything like that - that is how they SEEM, not necessarily how they actually ARE.
And it is simply not fair to punish someone based on a They Seem. It is only fair to punish based on a They Definitely Are (and really, really question whether you're perceiving Seems as Definites, which people often do).
If it's a They Seem, clarify what actually is happening before you decide how to respond. There's nothing wrong with not being certain and with asking for more information. But remember that how someone seems is often as much about our perception as their actual behaviour.
So many conflicts, so many relationship issues, so many losses, so many escalating arguments, so many dogpiles, so many exclusions, so much hurt on so many "sides" could be avoided if people just checked whether their perception is correct before responding.
One of the main problems autistic people face is that allistic people misperceive our communication / behaviour, so often interpreting it as negative when it actually isn't. This happens in so many different ways, so often. It does so much harm to us.
All I am asking is for people to take a moment, to step back from a situation if they need time to think it over, and to not assume that our own perceptions are automatically correct and unbiased. These shouldn't be scary or unrealistic things to ask for.
I think I've rambled and repeated myself a bunch of times here. Sorry. I'm tired and lonely and frustrated and sad and scared and anxious and lonely again. I just want to live in a world where I never have to fear my honest words being misconstrued and being punished for it.
Good night, and may we all remember that not one of us has a perfectly accurate perception of anything, because human brains, senses, etc are limited. And there's nothing shameful in admitting that.
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