Coded Messages

Hello Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for stopping by. Today, I have a bit of a rant…

I’ve been seeing quite a few of these “To my autistic friend” or “to my friend on the spectrum” notes that are trying to give some kind of magical equation or secret code for understanding the non verbal or coded or paralanguage of a neurotypical person. There is so much to unpack with these posts that it makes my head spin. I’m going to dig into it, but I’m just going to hit the highlights here or this post will end up being really long.

There is an error of the thinking behind these comments and suggestions. The underlying assumption of the post is that the reason I cannot read para language or body language is because of some failing of education or learning rather then acknowledging that there is a fundamental difference in my brain that makes me incapable of reading it. The person making these suggestions wrongly believes that I can be given a code to decipher these non verbal coded messages. But it doesn’t work that way.

This is a complete dismissal of my fundamental self. These posts are silently saying: “hey, study harder and you can learn this.” Well, the problem is that is akin to telling a blind person that studying more will make them see better. There is a biological difference in my brain that makes it impossible for me to be neurotypical. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend learning about how language and communication works, I will still not be able to do this the way that a neurotypical person does. How can I be so certain of this? I’ve been studying human psychology, communication and language skills for the last twenty years and I still cannot do it.

These posts are frustrating. I am tired of other people telling me that my personal experiences are not valid and are not real. I am tired of being denied the basic human dignity and respect of being heard and believed. I am tired of being told that I am like everyone else and that any differences I perceive are imagined. And if anyone does acknowledge that I am different it is only in order to point out how I need to change so that I will no longer be different. I’m also very tired of being told that all the gaps in communication between myself as a neurodivergent and someone who is a neurotypical is by default my personal failing. That I just need to work harder to understand the neurotypical person.

Can we please meet half way? Just somewhere in the middle?

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