How to Survive as an Autistic Adult in America

Lots of HFA/Aspie/autistic adults such as myself may find it difficult to do even the simplest of non-disabled tasks. Tasks such as driving a car, moving out of your parents’ house, or even finding someone cute who likes you back can be monumental hurdles for adults with disabilities, especially if those disabilities are primarily mental, such as with autism.

Luckily, I’ve come up with this 5 step guide to help you, as an American with autism, survive in today’s world.

Step 1: Be a Techie

If you have autism, you need to love computers. I don’t just mean video games. You need to love coding, assembling microchips, providing IT support, and all that good stuff. If you are more artistically-minded or if you don’t live anywhere close to Silicon Valley, stop doing that immediately. People with autism are not allowed to be artists, unless they are already well-off with a lot of established connections. The arts — especially the world of publishing, comics, and literature — is no place for a low-to-middle class person with autism and no connections. You need to be a techie, no matter how much you hate it or how little talent/motivation you have for it.

Step 2: Be Grateful

As a disabled adult, your primary purpose is to give non-disabled people inspiration. You’re supposed to help other people realize that they have the inner strength necessary to overcome life’s problems. Your own problems don’t matter. No  matter how bad your life is, remember that you don’t get to complain ever. Complaining, like job satisfaction, is for those of sound mind and body only. So be grateful for everything you have, even if everything you have would reduce a non-disabled person to a quivering  mass of horror and panic were your situations reversed.

Step 3: Accept All Advice

People are going to be giving you advice. No matter how terrible it is, you have to take it. If you don’t, you are Ungrateful. And there is nothing worse for a disabled person to be than Ungrateful. Remember, techniques that people without disabilities say work will work for you, even if you’ve already tried them to no avail 14,000 times. Clearly, you are not trying hard enough or you just aren’t doing it right. Try their advice again and again. But remember, even if you do go quite mad from all this effort, you are not allowed to complain or even to politely decline anyone’s advice. Unless that advice comes from someone else with a mental or physical disability. Their experience doesn’t count.

Step 4: Remember that Your Opinions, Feelings, and Interests Do Not Matter

All that matters in this world is what other people tell you matters. Your own opinions or feelings don’t come into it. Remember, your emotions, no matter how uncontrollable they may seem, are your own fault. If you feel a constant sense of dread that lasts for hours, days, weeks, or even months, it is entirely your fault because you are clearly too weak. You need to be stronger. Pray more, accept more advice, keep doing what other people tell you to do, even if it doesn’t make any sense. You don’t have a right to an explanation, a sense of peace or serenity, or a life filled with anything more than constant drudgery punctuated by joy. You don’t have any rights at all.

Step 5: It’s All Up to You

In the end, the only person who can help you succeed is you. If you’re not able to make the right connections or find the best jobs or if you blow an interview because you get manipulated into mentioning the fact that you do not drive, it’s your fault. You need to do better and try harder next time. It’s your responsibility to keep emailing contacts, even if you’re pretty sure at this point you’re just harassing them. Think outside the box, unless the advice-givers tell you not to.

It’s up to you to go and get that career/relationship/life other people think it’s within your ability to get. And if you can’t rise to their expectations, let alone your own, it is because you are weak. Remember, there are lots of famous people from history that we think may have probably didn’t have autism. So if you’re not at least as successful as them, it’s entirely your fault.

Step 6: Think Positive

While these steps may seem impossible, as you slowly allow yourself to go insane, you will begin to realize just how small we all are on this pathetic planet. You will realize that you are indeed the Lizard King and can do anything. As you tear through the veil separating this world from the next, rejoice and sing a song of fire and blood that brings this world to its knees. Remember, anything is possible!

Thirty Is Pretty Great

So. I don’t  have a comic for you this week. Probably won’t  have one next week. Will try to get one up by the holidays, but I think we may be looking at a June release, at the earliest. Very sorry. Grad school has proven a bigger bear than I anticipated. Scratch that. It’s proven EXACTLY as difficult as anticipated, and for that reason alone, my time for comicking has drastically been reduced.

Be that as it may, I will try to keep weekly updates going as long as I am able. Maybe throw a few In His Spare Time’s at you. See what happens.

Now, to address the title of this post. I turned 30 in April. So far, being 30 is kind of amazing. Having my mind blown constantly by all the ignorance and ridiculousness of modern society and how this ignorance has infected and infested our public school system. But I’m also learning about the great, unsung heroes of my nation, and for that, I am grateful and inspired.

Also new this year: The amount of farts I give has been growing steadily closer to zero. And it is amazing. Tyler Durden was right. There is an amazing amount of freedom you gain from being able to let that which does not matter truly slide.

Response to a Cracked Article

Hey friends. Today, I’d like to respond to an article on Cracked.com. So go ahead and read it HERE, and we’ll begin when you get back.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait. I have to. I’m just text on a screen, where did you think I was going to go?

All done? Cool. Ok, let’s start with some areas of confusion. Maybe it has to do with my autism or maybe it has to do with my tendency to over-think everything, but for some reason I thought guys were supposed to make friends with a woman before we asked her out. I mean, otherwise we’re just asking out every woman we’re attracted to within seconds of meeting them. “Hello, Woman Number 9,587. You seem like a cool person. Want to go on a date?”

Plus, why would you want to go on a date with someone you’re not friends with? “Hello, Woman Number 9,588. I know we don’t know each other, and we’re only talking because we’re standing in the same Wendy’s checkout line, but do you want to go on a date knowing absolutely nothing about each other?”

You don’t know this person. They could be dangerous! Or boring!

Batgirlanimated
Or Batgirl.

But hey, maybe that stranger who pours your coffee at Starbucks isn’t secretly Bat-girl? Maybe she’s just a normal person who’s just aching for some honest, human interaction?

Hey, is that what you guys do? Just go around letting people know when you’re attracted to them, as soon as you can? Because that seems creepy. By creepy, I mean that I’ve had women tell me that seems creepy. Plus, from what I’ve seen at least, most women like to get to know a guy for a little while before going on a date. But then, what’s the appropriate quantity of time? Is it the three-day rule? Is a month too long? What if you were, like, really, really busy? Or just forgot?

And hey, don’t get me wrong. I totally agree with Mr. Gladstone’s points here. I’m just curious about the timing. Thankfully, I have gotten a bit better at it. Here’s a free tip: If you can’t tell whether she’s interested, she’s probably not. And that won’t change. Like, ever. There’s a woman I like right now. I’m about 98% sure she doesn’t feel the same way as I do, and that is ok. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings. I’m not Emoto, Lord of Emotions. That said, I really enjoy our conversations and would be honored to continue being her friend because friendship is a good thing.

As for letting women know how you feel, well, I think most can tell. At least with me. I’m pretty easy to read. That said, it is always better to be upfront and honest. Do not fear the Awkwardness! Embrace Risk!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to put off making because I am a pretty nervous guy, all things considered.

…And Another Thing

Part of the problem comes from thinking of the Friend Zone as a trap. Just because it has the word “zone” in it, doesn’t make it a trap. Examples of zones that are not traps (or if they are, traps in which I would be content to stay trapped):

1. The Happy Puppy Zone (in which puppies run around in the sun, being happy and cute forever)
2. The Free Candy Zone (in which there is free candy)
3. The Forbidden Zone (because I am a rebel)
4. The Superhero Zone (where you get to be a superhero)
5. The Pony/Horse/Elephant/Pig/Battle-Cat Zone (where everyone gets a pony, horse, elephant, pig, or Battle-Cat to ride)

And yes, the Friend Zone. (Oh no! I’m trapped in the Friend Zone! I have no choice but to crack jokes and sing karaoke and drink hot cocoa and split the cost of a pizza and watch movies and argue about which color lightsaber Princess Leia would use! Whatever will I do?!)

I really want my own BattleCat now.
I really want my own Battle-Cat now.

Sources:

Picture of Batgirl from “Batman: The Animated Series.” Copyright Warner Bros. 2016.

Photo of Battle-Cat figure from http://www.he-man.org/collecting/toy.php?id=541&image=1435

Different People Are Different…And Also People

Because I have no intention of watching "Requiem for a Dream," loved "Black Swan," and may very well see "Noah" when it moves to TBS.
Because I have no intention of watching “Requiem for a Dream,” loved “Black Swan,” and may very well see “Noah” when it debuts on TBS.

LGBTQ (RSTUVWXYZ, seriously guys, get a better acronym) causes have been in the news a lot recently. And by news, I of course mean the two or three online mags I check out from time to time.

But aside from the gay marriage issue, which I’ve spoken about before, I’d like to talk today about the transgender community, a community which — as a straight, white, Christian man — I am in no way qualified to  talk about.

You might be surprised to hear this from someone who has no problem with the government legalizing homosexual marriage and no problem with mosques being built in or around NYC, but I’m actually fairly conservative.

As a practicing Catholic, I subscribe to a binary sex system, which dictates that there are two sexes built for each other. I can’t help but believe that a person so uncomfortable in their own flesh as to necessitate identifying entirely with the opposite sex is by definition mentally-imbalanced.

Of course, that’s only my opinion. I’ve only taken one college-level psychology class, and it was an audited course, which means I’ve taken zero college-level psychology classes. 

There’s a bit of a stigma attached to mental disease/disorder. As an autistic person, I can assure you there is nothing “wrong” or “broken” about anyone with mental illness. Bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, and all the other anxiety-causing, hallucination-inducing what-have-you’s are no less shameful than the common cold or any physical handicap.

Likewise, there’s nothing to “cure” when it comes to certain forms of mental illness. Autism, Down Syndrome, and even bipolar disorder are not diseases in the sense that the only “cure” would be a complete rewiring and rebuilding of the patient’s brain.

If you “cured” me of my autism, I’d no longer be recognizable as “me.” That’s what happens when you mess too much with the brain. A scary thought, especially for folks like myself who believe in the existence of Spirit and the immaterial, immortal nature of the human soul.

That said, treatment is available and highly-desirable for most forms of mental illness. Some of us can’t function in any real sense without our medicine, and that’s ok. No one would be surprised that a paraplegic requires a wheelchair. No one should be shocked to discover that a man with paranoid schizophrenia requires a daily dose to keep the hallucinations down to a bare minimum.

But none of that really applies to transgender folks.

With what little research I’ve done into trans-related issues, I’ve discovered that the only reliable treatment for transgender folk is for them to go ahead and be the sex/gender they identify as being. Therapeutic attempts at helping them accept their birth-sex have met with mixed results, to say the least.

Of course, that’s assuming therapy is even an option. That’s assuming the person in question hasn’t already faced bullying on par with the Spanish Inquisition.

So what are we “normals” to do? How should we treat those who are different?

The answer should be obvious. 

The idea of loving one’s neighbor is not a new one, although it may be too difficult for some of us to conceive of loving someone far different from ourselves. Perhaps it would be easier for us to start with politeness.

First: What NOT To Do

1. Don’t ask someone about the condition of their genitals. Not a stranger, not someone you just met, not even your friends. Seriously, it’s rude.

2. Don’t beat someone to death because they had a penis when you thought they’d have a vagina. Beating people to death is wrong. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. It’s wrong to rape. It’s wrong to murder. How do you not know this already? Are you from the moon?

3. Don’t stare at odd-looking folks. Every so often, I see certain folks on the train or at a grocery store. At first glance, I can’t tell if these folks are women dressed as men, transgender folks, men dressed as women, or some other category I can’t be bothered to look up at the moment because I got other stuff to do today, and I’m running behind as it is. What do I do when faced with these people?

I smile and continue about my day. I don’t stare. I don’t ask them personal questions. I treat them like everyone else I happen to run into, with love and respect. This is not that difficult. It’s what your mother taught you. It’s what the Church teaches. This should not be new. It is not a new concept.

What To Do

Here’s a list of ways to interact with transgender folks, other members of the LGBTQ community, members of minority ethnic groups, people with different hair color or skin tone or eye color than you, people with different religious affiliations, and people who hate everything.

1. Smile.

2. Nod.

3. Interact as you would with anyone else.

Seriously, that’s all. Show a basic level of human empathy and politeness to others. If a Different Person asks you for the time, pull out your watch or phone or alarm clock and tell them what time it is. If a Different Person asks you for a haircut, give them one and charge them the right rate. Unless you’re not a hair-stylist or barber, in which case, you are free to refuse service.

Seriously, why would you ask me for a haircut? I don’t even own one of those squeaky barbershop chairs.

Update: My stance on the gay marriage issue has since changed, slightly. While as a Christian, I cannot vote for it, as an American, I will not vote against it. The government has no right to forbid the marriage of two consenting adults. I call shenanigans on that. Shenanigans, all around.

Shenanigans.