Communicating from within the spectrum: falling through the gaps
For me, life is a continuum encompassed by many extremes: prosperity vs. austerity, knowledge vs. ignorance, joy vs. sadness, similarity vs. change, acceptance vs. denial, positive vs. negative, eloquence vs. inarticulacy… The list is finite, and hence endlessly complex, since there are many intervals within said extremes which occur concurrently. Furthermore, it’s all about perception, or confusion, in my case. There are gaps everywhere and I’m doing my best to bridge, if not understand, them.
Living with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) makes it difficult for me to express myself coherently; I often wonder if I manage to convey meaning (i.e. communicate), and if so, whether the message that’s received is the same as the one I intend to deliver. Frequently, I find myself having several conversations at once with the same person: there’s the message I want to convey, the one I’m delivering, and the one interpreted by the other person (there’s probably several more of which I’m unaware). My inability to think on my feet can sometimes make conversation feel obstructive rather than useful; both verbal, and non-verbal communication leaves me feeling exhausted – and that’s just when I’m talking to someone with whom I feel comfortable. As for the negative social experiences, well that leads to further introspection and a sense of futility. Fortunately I have tenacity in abundance, otherwise I’d have given up a long time ago.
There’s a debate within the autistic community as to whether or not autism should be considered a disorder, and just as importantly, whether it’s intrinsic to a person’s being. All I know is this: I wouldn’t be the same person if I wasn’t autistic, since if I didn’t live with the same sensory profile then I would experience the world differently, my behaviour would change, my inclination to socialise would be altered, and so too might my personality. If those factors were true, they wouldn’t guarantee that I would be considered “normal”, just different to the person writing this blog post. Of course in saying all of this I recognise that I may be misinterpreted (assuming that I’ve said what I intended to say in an understandable manner).
I think the bigger question is this: does difference means disorder? Not according to the dictionary, but then people use words out of context all the time, making it easier to be misunderstood, enabling us to fall through the gaps. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.