It's long been thought that Autistic people are loners, that we don't need connection and that we are happy in our own world.
It's also thought that we have social communication deficits, we are flawed and we must be taught how to communicate like a "normal person" with interventions such as social skills training etc.
The onus is always put on the autistic person/child to change the way we communicate in order to accommodate others.
Neurotypical is seen as the gold standard version of humans and anything that diverges from that is broken, disordered, and less worthy.
What if I told you that's not the case!
Thanks to a very wise autistic person called Dr Damien Milton who in 2012 came up with something called "the double empathy problem" we now know all of the above is total BS!!
To clarify, I'm not saying that it isn't beneficial for autistic people to learn how to communicate with our NT kin…. Just that autistic people communicate differently and it needs to go both ways. No doubt I will cover the problem with "social skills interventions" in the future.
Back to Double Empathy!
Simply put it means that autistic to autistic communication is just as effective as NT to NT communication BUT when we cross the two, there are problems…. This is because we can empathise better with our own neurotype. We share similar experiences, and our communication is culturally the same.
It makes sense, right? It seems so simple…. It is!
Now let's talk about friendships… As an openly out and proud ND person I have no NT friends… this isn't because I've engineered my life that way, just because I suppose I find it difficult to communicate with NTs. So naturally, all of my friends are ND… even if they haven't figured it out for themselves yet! (and I have lots of them).
Often when ND kids are stuck in mainstream one of the things that gets to me most is the lack of connection they must feel. I used to think loneliness was just a normal thing and that everyone experienced what I did. It wasn't until I found the people that we're the same type of weird as me that I experienced connection!
WE NEED OTHER ND PEOPLE! Just as much as NT people need friendships and connections.
Our friendships might look different. They're usually based on shared interests and goals… some of my closest autistic friends I've never even been in the same room as, but we love and care for each other just as much as any other close friend would, regardless of neurotype.
THIS is also why online community and gaming is such a massive thing for Autistic young people. We can connect with other people like us while staying in control of our environment and comfort levels… WIN-WIN!
Hope that helps?
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