Monday, 29 February 2016

Myths About Autistic Partners in Relationships

There was a study done by relationship counsellors.  A book was written about autistic people.  The book used the research from that study.  Well, some of it.  The book said that 7 out of 10 autistic partners were horrible to the other partner.

Except, the study showed at nearly 8 out of 10 non-autistic partners were horrible to the other partner.  The book forgot to mention that.  They also forgot to mention that the study included 'ever swearing at their partner, in the whole of their marriage', etc.  So this isn't about violence and crime.  This was about someone once saying a naughty word to their 'other half.'

And that's how careful autistic people have to be, when researching the awful myths about us.  Autistic diagnosis is nothing to do with nasty behaviour at all.

Luckily, that book is going out of print.  Good.

But, we still have a reasonable number of Professionals who peddle the 'autistic people are all monsters' the people we married.  And get a lot of money out of it for themselves.

"Are you married to an autistic person?  Do you feel traumatised?  You have Spiffle-Syndrome!  (Yes, a syndrome I invented, for this non-existent trauma, for marrying someone who's been autistic their whole life)".  Well, more or less that.  Except they don't call it Spiffle-Syndrome.  To save their blushes, I have disguised what they invented.

Now, first of all, autistic people are nicer, on average, than non-autistic people.  No, really.  See above.  And the research showing that we play more fairly with others.  And the research showing that we are more honest than others, on average.  

Genuinely nicer.

But...we can't see you.  Generalising, we are effectively blind, when looking at people. The bit of the brain that decodes body language, eye contact, voice expression and face recognition does other stuff instead.  So it's pretty rubbish at decoding hidden meanings, gestures, etc.

Imagine you have a friend who is Blind, and you fall in love with them and marry them.  Would you honestly then say, "I am traumatised!  They completely ignored my new hair colour.  And when I was looking sad, they didn't say a single thing to cheer me up.  Plus, they did not buy me the top I wanted in the shop, just by knowing which one I was looking at...which proves they Just Don't Care.  I'm going to join a society for distressed partners of Blind people. Blind people can't be trusted to be nice partners.  They are all horrid". 

Well, why not?   Yes, because the reason the person is failing on those things is because they are Blind, not nasty. 

That's what some people do with us, though.  And it's really odd.  Equally odd is complaining about our need for low-sensory stuff.  And our need for clear instruction.  And our need for time out with our passionate hobbies and interests.  All of those have been present from the earliest age. They didn't develop after we married.  And the reason we need those things is because autism is a very real brain wiring difference, not a personality defect.  It's not an illness. It's not a 'deficit'.  It's nothing to do with lacking empathy (that's sociopaths, not autistic people).  We thrive in the quiet.  Our brains literally overheat in busy, noisy social gatherings.  And it causes us very real pain because of the overheating.  It's not that we hate your friends and can't be bothered to go.  Or are being rude deliberately.

Worse still, a well known Professional got women whose partners were abusive to agree that those partners Must Be Autistic.  No actual autism diagnosis was required.  If someone was nasty, that was all the proof we need that they are autistic, see? No, really.

So, the next time you get someone telling you that they were 'married to an autistic person who was horrible', and then tell you that 'no autistic people should be trusted'...please have a really careful think about it.  Because, actually, that's not OK.  Or true.   It's as untrue as 'no woman can be trusted' or 'all men are violent', or 'all clergy are a danger to children'.  You know a nasty myth when you hear it.  Now you know the main one about autistic people.

Know the realities about this largely gentle, caring bunch of wonderful autistic people that I have the honour to call friends.  We're dedicated quirky specialists whose brains have a very different 'operating system'. Whatever our IQ, and whether we can speak all the time or not, most of us care very much about others.  Our loyalty, integrity and love can be breathtaking.

And, if autism isn't something you can live with, please don't marry us.  Very simple.

Many thanks for listening.