I think I could be a little bit autistic myself
Ever had this one: "I think I could be a little bit autistic myself, you know"?
Now, I'll be the first to admit I am not in any way qualified to diagnose anyone (not even myself, which is why I eventually went for a formal diagnosis), but I'm confident in saying if you think you could be a "little bit autistic", you're almost certainly not.
The most glaring reason I think this is true is as I've said before: autistic people don't feel a little bit autistic. Being autistic is a fundamental part of what we are and plays a vital role in making us who we are.
We're often told by do-gooding busybodies not to let our autism define us, but, to a large extent, that's exactly what it fucking does (in the same way as we let our sex, gender, sexuality, colour, ethnicity, race, nationality, and fuck-knows-how-many-other traits, characteristics and even arbitrary labels define us).
More to the point, autism is a spectrum and not a gradient, as I've written before. Autism doesn't come in levels. It comes in flavours (which is why I find "functional-labels" so abhorrent).
There are times when I don't seem even remotely autistic to others because the unique combination of my masking abilities and natural presentation serve to make me appear neurotypical. Please, understand in those moments what you see as being "mild autism" is a commentary on how mildly you are experiencing my autism, not how mildly I am.
And at other times even the most ignorant and uninformed neurotypical bigot would probably grudgingly admit I am somewhat suffering from Spectrumitis.
You are not and never "a little bit autistic" just like you're not a little bit pregnant.
Saying "I think I could be a little bit autistic" is a slap in the face
Because as with so many other things it invalidates and diminishes our challenges and struggles with everyday life.
You don't get an autism diagnosis just because you express one or two autistic traits every now and then. You get an autism diagnosis because you express a critical number of traits consistently and in a way substantially and significantly impairing your everyday life in society.
Saying "I think I could be a little bit autistic" because you get pissed off in the mall when it's busy and your kids are tired, fractious, and misbehaving is like me saying I'm a little bit quadriplegic because I have a stiff leg.
True story from one of those cockwombles
A couple of years ago I joined a local gym. I know... that sounds unlikely and eyebrow-raising.
But I had my reasons. I have my own excellent gym at home, but I wanted some specialist help with my mobility.
So I did the smart thing and paid an expert.
I wasn't much looking forward to the whole thing, but the fact this gym was badged and branded as autism friendly gave me some confidence they might be a little more accommodating than your typical neurotypicals.
"You idiot, McCulloch", I hear you say.
You're not wrong.
I should have walked out almost as soon as I walked in, but I was hopeful, desirous of a certain result, and also somewhat preoccupied with dealing with all the over-stimulation of the lights, sound, and people.
He asked me about what my being autistic meant for me in terms of working out and interacting at the gym, and when I told him he said, "Yes, I feel like that sometimes. I think I might be a little bit autistic myself. My friends agree with me".
Great. So not only do you clearly have no fucking clue about what it means to be autistic, but you're taking off-the-cuff comments from your almost-certainly unqualified friends as being a definitive diagnosis, and then allowing your own skewed perception of the world to project onto others.
Did I mention this bloke was a cockwomble?
DID I MENTION THIS BLOKE WAS A COCKWOMBLE?
Such crass stupidity is worthy enough of being a capital fucking offence in and of itself.
But the real crime?
From that moment on he disregarded anything I said by reframing it in terms of his own "autistic" experience, deciding it was an "overreaction", and then dismissed it as irrelevant and told me, in effect, to "power through" it.
I didn't last long at that gym, as you can imagine (and I can't help but chuckle to myself thinking about how shit this last year must have been for him. I guess our businesses are all a "little bit locked down", eh?).
I get asked surprisingly frequently by people if I think they could be autistic. There are many signs, but that's all they are. Signs. Whether they point to anything important, is something only an expert can divine.
As I said up top, I am not qualified to diagnose, but there are some strongly indicative smoking guns, and these are to be found not in what people say when I ask them why they thing such a thing, but how they say it.
If you tell me in a way to suggest you're trying to label occasional expression of a few superficially autistic traits, then I can confidently tell you "probably no".
But if you tell me it's the only rational explanation you can see for the sheer fuckeduppedness of your life, then I'll tell you it doesn't seem impossible, but, you know, you should get a formal diagnosis (and very occasionally someone will self-diagnose anyway, wear it like a badge of honour, and yet steadfastly refuse even to contemplate a formal diagnosis, free or paid. I think those people are full of shit).
Your inalienable right to freedom of speech guarantees you can say you feel a little bit autistic as often, as loudly, and as sincerely as you like.
You can casually self-identify as autistic to your heart's content and claim to anyone who cares to listen about how you know what autism is really like, "Cuz iM a LItTLe BIt AUTistIC".
But when you say do any of this, remember this: you're not "woke", inclusive, accepting, aware, or understanding.
What you are is wrong.
Oh yeah, and annoying.
You're very, very fucking annoying.
Jon McCulloch, The Evil Bald Genius
Author, speaker, business owner, and autism advocate