we are simply trying to communicate in the certain knowledge that if communication breaks down, almost all observers will simply blame us for incompetence
This is the crux of it, really, and where the ableism comes in. It's not just that if I don't do this, communication will break down. It's that communication will break down and everyone will insist it is my fault. If we are having a conversation, and the neurotypical person misunderstands because they ascribe to me attitudes and moods that they have incorrectly drawn from my expression and body language, I am blamed.
I mask to be understood, but I do so with the added duress of knowing that if I fail, I am wrong for failing to fit neurotypical expectations. No one says the neurotypical was at fault for making incorrect assumptions about me. So I change my behavior to something that neurotypical people can easily understand. Smile with your cheeks, tilt your head there, pitch your voice here, look at the eyes now, stop swaying, nod, look away now, gesture here. I put in the work to make sure neurotypicals understand what I mean.
The thing is, they almost never extend the same courtesy to me. Neurotypical people do not adjust their behavior to make it easier for me to understand them. And if I fail to understand them because the way they communicated was confusing--whelp, it's my fault again. It's always my fault. It's always my fault. It's always my fault.
So, like... neurotypicals could learn, the way autistic people learn. And lest you think this is something supremely difficult that takes years of autism training: my clinic just launched parent coaching that's basically all the stuff I just described, changing how you communicate with your kid in order to make social interaction more positive for them. I've seen vast improvements in social connection between parents and kids in as little as three one hour sessions. It's actually not that hard. Certainly not compared to learning the extensive, subtle, complicated rules of neurotypical interaction.
But neurotypicals rarely want to put any effort into changing how they communicate. It's always autistic people. And it's always autistic people's fault if the communication goes wrong. I wouldn't mind if it were one or the other--you can either blame me when it goes wrong WHILE actually trying to communicate in a way I understand, OR not put in that effort but be understanding when I fuck up because you aren't making any sense to me. But neurotypicals want it both ways, because that's easier for them, and autistic people "should" be the one doing all the work, because there's something "wrong" with us.
We grow up being told awful, abusive things about what we NEED TO DO in order to be ACCEPTABLE and RESPECT PEOPLE.
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