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Is it possible for autistic and non-autistic people to understand one another?

bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
edited September 2017 in Autism and Aspergers
I'm an autistic adult and am interested in talking with other disabled people about their experiences of discrimination and exclusion. I'm not sure if it is actually possible for autistic and non-autistic people to understand one another and to be inclusive of one another in each one's environments and systems. I'm wondering if inclusion is a useful goal for autistic people, or whether we just need to set up parrallel communities and systems that work for us, instead of trying to get everyone else to include us. 

Replies

  • steve51steve51 Posts: 5,861Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @bert1fegg

    Welcome to our website & online community.

    I do hope that we can help you with this????

    I have attached some I below which I hope is useful to you?????

    https://www.scope.org.uk/support/families/diagnosis/autism
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    Thank you steve51. I'm not really in need of basic information about autism. Thanks for linking to the page, though. The Scope page on autism contains unfortunate misinformation. I'll let Scope know about this.
  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Posts: 5,249Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hello bert and welcome

    For my part I hope for an all inclusive society which promotes understanding of people whoever or what ever they maybe.

    I try to see people !
    and animals !
    and plants !
    as individuals.In fact all living things as interesting. I want them all in my world. Each is different in their own way and that is what makes life.

    I know this is idealistic but I live in hope

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • steve51steve51 Posts: 5,861Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    edited September 2017
    Hi @bert1fegg

    Can you please let me know about the wrong information.

    I can then take it up with Scope.



     
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    steve51 said:
    Hi @bert1fegg

    I'm very very sorry about the info.

    Can you please let me know about the wrong information.

    I can then take it up with Scope.



     
    Don't worry, Steve. There is a lot of not-quite-right info out there about autism, usually because it isn't written by autistic people. I'm sure Scope was just following suit. I'll explain the most problematic bits when I get a mo later on. 
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    Hello bert and welcome

    For my part I hope for an all inclusive society which promotes understanding of people whoever or what ever they maybe.

    I try to see people !
    and animals !
    and plants !
    as individuals.In fact all living things as interesting. I want them all in my world. Each is different in their own way and that is what makes life.

    I know this is idealistic but I live in hope

    CR
    Seeing people is a great aspiration indeed. If you manage to see people then you are doing very well. I'll offer an example or two to illustrate the problem I am getting at. I have to go to work in a mo so I'll write it later.


  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Posts: 5,249Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks I will look forward to reading and hopefully understanding a little more

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @bert1fegg welcome to the community - do you want to let me know about any information you believe is incorrect and we can look into it? You can email on [email protected]
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 609Member Pioneering
    I agree (in general, not the stuff written on here) about the poor information about Autism.

    As for the original question - from experience, it's possible. But it takes a lot of understanding from both parties, which some people really aren't willing to do.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 609Member Pioneering
    Would love to know (because I've never heard this one) where Scope got it from that many with Autism are colourblind? Yes, I have both; but we know that my issues with colour vision are to do with an unrelated condition.

    Also, something that always bugs me - the article only talks about children. It affects adults too!
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener

    Regarding the autism information, I suggest Scope contacts an autistic DPO like Autscape or ARGH or Autistic UK. These are all run by and for autistic people. I would avoid getting material from non-autistic run sources, although some are not too bad.

    For what it's worth, here are my views based on my own personal and professional experience and conversations with other autistic adults.

    Communication (both listening and expressing themselves)

    I don't know how many times non-autistic people fail to answer the exact question an autistic person has asked them. I find autistic people far easier to communicate with. Autistic people (including so-called 'low functioning', non-verbal ones) listen to what you actually say, not what they think you mean. Communication problems are always diagnosed by non-autistic people, and they never blame themselves, because they're not disabled, right?!&

    Understanding their emotions and even the most basic emotions of others. Being unable to empathise with another person, either in real life or in a story

    This is the old theory of mind stuff again. I nave not met a single autistic person, including children, who is not clearly able to see things from others points of view. Difficulty transitioning from one point of view to another might be an issue, but that's nothing to do with a lack of empathy. Also autistic people don't readily understand the non-autistic perspective, so that might come across as insensitivity. But in my experience non-autistic people are far worse at understanding the autistic perspective.

    Making eye contact

    Why is this a difficulty or a problem? And who is it a difficulty or problem for? Eye contact is quite unnecessary for effective communication.

    Responding to praise

    Don't understand this one.

    Literality of speech (not understanding idioms or expressions)

    This is over-egged. The problem here is not so much with idioms or expressions (which can be learned), as generally assuming that people mean what they actually say.

    Taking turns

    Not sure about this one. Autistic people do take turns in conversations. We get completely lost when people talk over each other.

    Hurting someone, often just to get a reaction, without understanding what this feels like for the other person

    This one is bizarre and a bit offensive. No idea where this comes from. We do sometimes hurt others, but this is usually communication, an expression of extreme frustration or distress or 'get the hell away from me'. Hmm. Maybe this is to do with how we sometimes provoke reactions to find out where boundaries are. People do not reliably say where boundaries are, so they often need to be found by experiment. That could be it.


    Anyway, don't take my word for any of this! Ask a bunch of autistic people. 

  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    CockneyRebel

    The issue is mostly one of incompatible values. I'll give a recent example about my autistic son. His class was asked to write individual 'Thank You' letters to a visiting dance teacher who was leaving. My son did not want to write this letter because he didn't like her, didn't like the classes and wasn't grateful. From his point of view, writing such a letter would be a lie. And he has been told by his school that lying is wrong, and he finds this confusing. Of course, the school both wants to thank the teacher and teach the children to show good manners, which is why they insisted on these letters being written, because that is polite. 

    So we have an action which from the autistic perspective is wrong (i.e. because it is being disrespectful to someone by lying to them) but from the non-autistic perspective is right (i.e. because it is showing appreciation for the dance teacher giving up her time voluntarily).

    These pervasive differences of outlook and values and perceptions I think are so fundamental that realistic integration of autistic people into mainstream culture is impossible.
  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 609Member Pioneering
    bert1fegg said:
    Communication (both listening and expressing themselves) I don't know how many times non-autistic people fail to answer the exact question an autistic person has asked them. I find autistic people far easier to communicate with. Autistic people (including so-called 'low functioning', non-verbal ones) listen to what you actually say, not what they think you mean. Communication problems are always diagnosed by non-autistic people, and they never blame themselves, because they're not disabled, right?!&
    Quite. I was told it's a two way thing and what you put into the conversation is what you get out of it. So, if you're going to be vague with what you're asking me to do, I'm probably going to misunderstand what you really want.
  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Posts: 5,249Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for the illustration. I know that is just one example but wouldn't life be easier if we all said what we thought and meant.
    I will continue to try and understand more
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    The long post in which I talked about the autism information page has disappeared, although Nystagmite managed to reply to it before it went AWOL. Is this a glitch or did I say something inappropriate? I did edit it and that may have mucked something up.
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    My post is back! Thank you.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @bert1fegg Im not sure why you couldnt see your post, we didnt edit or remove anything :) 

    Glad you can see it again.  I will pass on your comments.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    bert1fegg said:

    Regarding the autism information, I suggest Scope contacts an autistic DPO like Autscape or ARGH or Autistic UK. These are all run by and for autistic people. I would avoid getting material from non-autistic run sources, although some are not too bad.

    For what it's worth, here are my views based on my own personal and professional experience and conversations with other autistic adults.

    Communication (both listening and expressing themselves)

    I don't know how many times non-autistic people fail to answer the exact question an autistic person has asked them. I find autistic people far easier to communicate with. Autistic people (including so-called 'low functioning', non-verbal ones) listen to what you actually say, not what they think you mean. Communication problems are always diagnosed by non-autistic people, and they never blame themselves, because they're not disabled, right?!&

    Understanding their emotions and even the most basic emotions of others. Being unable to empathise with another person, either in real life or in a story

    This is the old theory of mind stuff again. I nave not met a single autistic person, including children, who is not clearly able to see things from others points of view. Difficulty transitioning from one point of view to another might be an issue, but that's nothing to do with a lack of empathy. Also autistic people don't readily understand the non-autistic perspective, so that might come across as insensitivity. But in my experience non-autistic people are far worse at understanding the autistic perspective.

    Making eye contact

    Why is this a difficulty or a problem? And who is it a difficulty or problem for? Eye contact is quite unnecessary for effective communication.

    Responding to praise

    Don't understand this one.

    Literality of speech (not understanding idioms or expressions)

    This is over-egged. The problem here is not so much with idioms or expressions (which can be learned), as generally assuming that people mean what they actually say.

    Taking turns

    Not sure about this one. Autistic people do take turns in conversations. We get completely lost when people talk over each other.

    Hurting someone, often just to get a reaction, without understanding what this feels like for the other person

    This one is bizarre and a bit offensive. No idea where this comes from. We do sometimes hurt others, but this is usually communication, an expression of extreme frustration or distress or 'get the hell away from me'. Hmm. Maybe this is to do with how we sometimes provoke reactions to find out where boundaries are. People do not reliably say where boundaries are, so they often need to be found by experiment. That could be it.


    Anyway, don't take my word for any of this! Ask a bunch of autistic people. 


    @VioletFenn what are your thoughts?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • VioletFennVioletFenn Posts: 124Member Pioneering
    Thanks for tagging me, @Sam_Scope

    I think @bert1fegg raises some interesting points - I've certainly never had a problem with empathising, for example, nor has my son - but I would take the Scope info list to be suggestions for possible ways that autistic people might behave or react, rather than being a proscriptive list of how we will react.

    That said, I personally do find it difficult to know when to 'take turns' in a conversation, so that bit would indeed apply to me. I agree that the 'hurting people' bit is odd tho and I think the possible explanation that  @bert1fegg suggests is a good one.

    ASD is so literally a spectrum that you could put a hundred different autistic people in a room and they might all have a different set of traits that affect them or make them act differently to others. It's very unlikely that you'd get two who 'presented' in exactly the same way.

    I do think that autistic people tend to understand each other more easily - but perhaps that's simply because we're used to accepting our own and others' differences, so nothing ever really seems unusual to us? But I would never want there to be parallel communities with NT and ND existing 'separately', because that encourages division in my view. Inclusivity all the way!

    Violet
    ASD advisor, Scope


  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,184Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @bert1fegg

    Many autistic people integrate well with mainstream society, though often viewed as a little 'odd'. So I would say inclusion is a worthwhile goal.

    'Literality of speech (not understanding idioms or expressions)

    This is over-egged. The problem here is not so much with idioms or expressions (which can be learned), as generally assuming that people mean what they actually say.'

    It is an issue, especially when an idiom or expression has not been learned, and can have serious consequences. Example I was once asked by a driver to watch him as he backed into a wall. I was a little shocked when the driver did so and pushed down the said wall. Had someone been walking past at the time it could have had serious consequences. My daughter was stood in a queue with her class mates as she had been told. She could not understand why all the other children were disobeying the teacher and walking off, leaving her to stand on  her own wondering what was going on. She had not heard the teacher say to follow her and continued obeying the last instruction she was given. It took an hour before anyone realised she was missing.

    'Hurting someone, often just to get a reaction, without understanding what this feels like for the other person'

    I started keeping my hair short when I worked in an autistism school due to a number of pupils who would suddenly grab your hair and pull it if they could. I have also been spat on, kicked, punched, scratched and had things thrown at me. Often as these were how the children reacted to adults in general. I would not presume however the motivation behind these.

    My daughter went through a patch where her female friends were getting upset with her because she had begun punching them hard in the arm. when I spoke to her about it she said it was okay because that was what the boys did to each other and believed it was what friends did. She would not listen when I tried to explain this was something boys did sometimes, but generally not girls, so got a couple of her friends to talk to her about it.

    Making eye contact.

    It is a problem because most people are able to make eye contact and failure to do so is often seen as the person being shifty or lying. Actually highlighting that people with autism may have difficulty making eye contact is one way of promoting inclusion. I know when I talk to someone who won't make eye contact it raises flags in my mind that there may be other issues. For example I would be more aware of their mood, more likely to check that I am understanding an issue correctly and to finish a conversation making sure we have interpreted what has been said in the same way.

    Not mentioned, I know one of my oddities is that I will try and figure something out and would suddenly ask a question out of the blue, expecting the other person to know what I am talking about and why I am asking the question. Often having to rephrase the question so they have the context of the question and better able to answer it.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,184Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @DannyMoore thanks for the insight.  I have to agree with @bert1fegg that I find some of the reasons given why some autistic people behave in some ways as suspect. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • AlexW_ScopeAlexW_Scope Posts: 204Scope Team Scope community team
    Thanks for all the thought-provoking feedback. I'm going to take this into account when we review the page. Best wishes, Alex
  • bert1feggbert1fegg Posts: 9Member Listener
    Thanks for all your repiies. I'll reply to everyone when I have a bit more time.
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