I recently came across some autism-related news; it’s unfortunate the autism mention came in defending one’s poorly-chosen actions:
“I understand I came off as super rude but I’m rude and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
[Becky] said she suffers from Autism and that having Obregon stand outside her home made her feel trapped.
“As somebody with autism I’m extremely uncomfortable with having strangers in front of the house,” she said. “It’s extremely triggering to have to walk out and see a stranger there. To me, this person might attack me, I don’t know.”
As I read this article (and the, uh, interesting takes that followed), it got me thinking about the all-too-fine lines between ‘autism as a reason for actions’ vs. ‘autism as an excuse.’
I’ve even had to endure some difficult conversations about to what extent I “hide” my negative actions (brusqueness, directness, ignorance, insensitivity) behind my autism.
That line of thinking both makes and misses the point:
Autism is not a shield, nor is it meant to excuse our worst attributes.
I’ve had episodes similar to Becky’s, thankfully with less racist/ableist optics.
I’m not proud of when I’ve yelled and cussed at people, or when I’ve ever lied, or grabbed the last piece of cake.
Some actions are just bad, and autism doesn’t explain them away.
Autism doesn’t justify racism, prejudice, lies, grift, or many hosts of other sins.
In fact, it doesn’t justify anything.
Things like ‘rudeness’, ‘insensitivity,’ and ‘brusqueness’ — now that is where autism gets its bad rap.
But do I get a pass on those? Do I get a “Get Out of Civility” free card?
No, and I shouldn’t. And I won’t use a shield for that.
Instead of a shield, I’d rather have context, something that moves my stance from “Don’t Blame Me” to “Do Understand Me.”