Friday 12 January 2018

On Autism & People (Part 2 of 2)

(Part 1 here)

So, if my life and experiences are as I described in Part 1, then why do I do what I do?  Or, more specifically, the way I do it?

Blogging and Twitter are easy, and as such I've been doing them a long time. I sit alone and type. Easy, right?  Whereas sometimes the consequences of what I've written can be difficult, the actual act of getting the stuff out there isn't.  This is a way for me to put my point of view across, and if it wasn't there I doubt I would be able to do it.  This is where the stereotype of the "angry autistic" comes from - the inability to get what you think and feel across to other people. It builds and builds until it gets to the point where you explode in rage.  Even though I'm diagnosed as being more "high-functioning" (as the literature puts it), this does happen to me on occasion, though I usually try my best to remove myself from the situation before it becomes noticeable.  But in the main, I do very well at this, even though it may not come across that way.

Beer-related events I do fewer than I used to, mainly due to the energy required to do so.  Whereas most people, when put into a noisy and crowded situation with no obvious direction, can simply filter out the "unwanted" stuff and concentrate on the matter at hand, I can't do that.  I have to manually process everything around me, try to push the "unwanted" stuff to the back of my mind (where it still is, trying to get out), and work out what I'm supposed to do.  It's sometimes taken me half-an-hour just to get inside a building where an event is taking place. And once I'm inside, the whole process has to start again.

I know that some of you have seen me and introduced yourselves to me at various Beer Fests over the years (and let's face it, with how I usually dress I'm easy enough to spot).  Many people have seemed nonplussed when I look startled as they introduce themselves to me. This is because I'm still in the "processing" stage of trying to orient myself to the surroundings and I've just been given something unexpected to deal with in addition to this.  My conversational skills are not great in the most ideal of circumstances, so it's unlikely anyone's going to get a great deal from me.  I've been told that people are wary of me due to my "beer blogging's greatest monster" reputation and are surprised when I'm more anxious and less obnoxious than they've been lead to believe. All I can say is that, usually, things are rarely what people expect them to be.

I will never be able to be part of a "gang" or a "scene" or group of beer people charming their way into recognition and "fame" (such as it is in the beer world).  Networking isn't something I'm able to do, and this has probably hindered any progress I've made over the last 5 years or so.  I have to work with what I have.  And what I do have is the ability to see things in a different way to most people.

My autistic brain has no time for what it sees as "irrelevant" social details.  Whereas this can make me appear clumsy and rude, I can usually size people up fairly quickly, if for no other reason than they can't use their "preprogrammed" social interactions on me.  This, as you'd expect, has led me to feel a certain degree of cynicism about the human race. More specifically, about the massive gap between what people say they want and do, and what they do in reality.  Such is the mindset of the chronic piss-taker, and as such explains 80% of this blog.

Whereas I don't like arguments and conflict, I have no problem speaking my mind.  As someone who had great trouble communicating as a child and teenager, I now have a way to do it.  I would never wish my early life on anybody, but it has given me a certain set of skills in dealing with life.  Even if they seem bizarre or baffling to anyone else.

So, this is what being autistic is like for me.  I wouldn't dream of speaking for anyone else as all experiences are unique. But for all those who think I'm a "nutter", a "flake" or a "complete prick", this is why.


  1. I would like a part 3, telling us what, if anything, pubs or beer festivals or your readers can do to make life easier for you.

  2. Now, following on from my previous comment,and especially due to you referring to meeting people in part 2, I have to say when I bumped into you and randomly introduced myself and we mused about beer for a half hour all was as usual and as expected. A mildly amusing aspect for me after the half hour was when you left, you just wandered off without saying goodbye. Initially my first instinct was to think I've upset you and may have been talking drivel (Not unknown after several ales). Then I thought maybe it was the condition. But then I thought at works do's and big nights out that tends to be how it randomly often ends so as an analysis who knows, but I hope I didn't cause offence!I see Maggie's post- when I recognised the shirt I deliberately left it quarter of an hour before saying hello, but the pub only had ten people in so you could hardly avoid me, both if us sitting at the bar, in what was alien to me but one of your locals, so I tend to be cautious in rarely known territory! Last in ten years previously!

    1. I always do that. The people who know me well call it my "Patented Disappearing Act". It helps me avoid potentially awkward situations.

  3. To be honest, I wouldn't expect any accommodations to be made for me in that respect. After all, I know what to expect in those situations by now. When it gets too hot, I simply get out of the kitchen.

    1. Well, I am cautious anywhere because I tend to like free movement and to go anywhere, so have to be for self preservation purposes generally! Worked so far. I agree, it can appear condescending if a person attempts to react differently to pre-empt an 'accomodation in advance'. I happen to be completely deaf in one ear, other one fine, but if sitting on wrong side of someone tend to tell them because I end up looking towards them too intently strangely for an English person,& worry about that spooking them (man or woman!).But normally if I have the option to choose, sit on the correct side or demand a particular chair as a self declared ' deafy'.Seems to get over the issue quickly without any problem. Brain tumour 2000 meant destruction of the ear, but alive and okay so what the hell!Brain function unimpeded aside from strong beer I might add!

  4. This is useful stuff. If we ever meet, I'll know to give you time & space to process my being there - and not to take the 'disappearing act' personally.

    What these posts (and comments) make me think is that it's easy to lump together being 'on the spectrum' and being shy, introverted, a bit of a loner etc - particularly given that quite a lot of us (self included) have experience of the second of these - and that they're actually very different things. There's a big difference between, on one hand, finding it an effort to use the 'social etiquette' toolbox and, on the other, not having that toolbox at all.