A little bit autistic

This is my response to: Why it’s nonsense to say that everyone’s a little bit autistic

As someone that identifies as “needs support” level of autistic, raptor hands, and very intentional about having to learn social lessons that others got the manual for and I didn’t, the phrase “Everyone’s a Little Bit Autistic”(EaLBA) isn’t nonsense!

I missed it when it was originally posted, so thank you for reposting, but I have a bone to pick with calling it nonsense. On a scale from astrology to math, of things that make sense, “everyone’s a little bit autistic” is at least a 4 “makes sense”. Nonsense would be a zero or one. You can disagree with their mental model on how things work, and provide improvements so that there’s a more advanced, less 2-dimensional model, but as they say: all models are wrong but some are useful.

In particular, I’d like to contribute by suggesting we use a Kiviat diagram, or radar graph, to visualize the situation instead.

Here’s a Kiviat diagram of a totally normal neurotypical person, my interpretation of my most neurotypical friend, and then there’s me.

Kiviat diagram

As we see in the sensory processing category, my friend M is “a little bit autistic” with regards to sensory processing while being normal in the rest. Just that sometimes they don’t hear when someone says something. But it’s minor and doesn’t cause any real problems for them in life. In comparison, I’m a lot “a bit autistic”, and my brain and body cause me an inordinate amount of distress on a daily basis.

So let’s be more precise with our language then, and say “almost everyone deviates outside of what’s considered neurotypical, to some degree, on one or more spectrums with which we have established that neurodivergence exists upon”, or AEDOoWCNtSDoOoMSWWWHETNEU for short. And that furthermore, there exists a threshold by which we consider someone to have an actual disorder that suggests a distance from what we consider neurotypical. Or ATFTEaTbWWCStHaADTSaDFWWCN for short. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. And people are sloppy with language. I mostly talk with people (there’s a cat or three, and more than a few computers in there), so I can accept and live with the sloppiness of the phrase EaLBA. But fine, we can trot out AEDOoWCNtSDoOoMSWWWHETNEU, ATFTEaTbWWCStHaADTSaDFWWCN whenever discussing the matter instead if we’d prefer.

Let’s get down to the meat of the issue though. What’s actually important is why someone’s saying EaLBA. If it’s being used to invalidate my problems, or you’re using it to hurt me, or remove my support, I humbly ask that you please stop. If, however, you’re saying that because you’re trying to identify with me, please continue!

I’m 39 and only just realized that not everyone who’s nice to me is actually my friend. Some are even foe while being nice! If you’re friends with me, please keep using that phrase because, I need for you to keep trying to identify with me as a fellow human being. That my bizarre inexplicable behavior that makes no sense doesn’t have you wondering if I’m even really human.

Because I’m a “needs support” on the simplified 2-dimensional spectrum on how much support I need. Sure, simplifying it to 2 dimensions eliminates some of the subtlety a more rigorous and expansive model would give, but I’ve already 540 words in here.

I don’t have Temple Grandin or Hannah Gadsby money to get people to help me using money, plus I’m told that only goes so far, so I’m only alive today because of great people in my life that support me. Not even just for free, but at real material cost to themselves. I don’t super get it, but I guess they’re what people call friends. I live every day in fear that I’ll do/say the wrong thing which’ll prove I’m not human enough, and they’ll abandon me. This is a very real, rational fear due to my lived experience of people doing this to me all my life. Explicitly: this isn’t theoretical. I’ve lost track of how many people have abandoned me because of something I did, and that furthermore “you know what you did wrong” and “you’ll never get it”.

So if you’re my friend (which you don’t have to be) and want to think and say EaLBA, to better identify me as a fellow human, worthy of love and care and support, please go right ahead! I don’t care for policing anyone else’s language.

(If you’re thinking this comes from a place of trauma and I need therapy, holy shit you are right. Therapy’s helped but hasn’t solved it, unfortunately, but in case you were about to suggest therapy for me, I super appreciate any and all genuine efforts to help me with my journey.)