Me: okay, got a lot to do today
Me: Glad I planned ahead and actually made breakfast last night!
Me: Now I can just sit down and eat, no prep needed.
Me: And of course nothing goes better with a cup of overnight oats than my drug of choice: the advice columns!
Me: Always nice to see I’m not the only hot mess in the world!
Me: I loved that column the other day, where Monicker brought the hammer down.
Advice columnist: That is not my name.
Me: I know, but I don’t want to get sued or yelled at or anything.
Advice columnist: You don’t want to get yelled at, so you have a snarky blog.
Me: Point taken. But I’m not always snarky.
Me: And so far, everybody’s been really nice.
Me: Let’s get back to that awesome recent column I mentioned, shall we?
Middle-aged white lady: Dear Monicker – My husband said something totally racist about my son’s new girlfriend. What should I do?
Monicker: Leave him.
Me: AW YEAH SAY IT MONICKER
Me: Anyway. Back to the present.
Person writing in today: Dear Monicker – My sister-in-law always talks too much at family gatherings. I’m pretty sure she’s probably a good person I guess maybe, but every conversation is about her her her. It’s at the point where my formerly close-knit family doesn’t get together much because, well, her her her. What should I do? Sincerely, Silent In Seattle
Monicker: (gives sensible advice about letting sister-in-law know that she is not a problem but some of her behavior is)
Me: Well done, Monicker!
Monicker: …are you going to stop calling me that?
Me: Well, there are only three advice columns that I like to read in this paper.
Me: And I’m not even halfway finished with this delightful oatmeal.
Me: And gawd knows I’m not ready to read the actual news just yet.
Me: …time for the comments section!
My kiddo, every time I mention this terrible habit of mine: Why would you do that?
Kiddo: Have you not heard that actual literal saying about NEVER READ THE COMMENTS???
Me: I know, but sometimes they’re actually really good.
Me: And sometimes when I’m all indignant about either the person writing in or the advice they were given, it’s good to see someone else say “seriously come ON.”
Me: Plus this way I can play my favorite game.
Me: And the name of the game is, “How many comments does it take before someone suggests that the problem-person is autistic?”
Me: (gets out my handy-dandy twelve-sided die)
Me: (yes I’m autistic and yes I think D&D is kind of cool)
Me: (pretend to be surprised)
Me: Ten??? With a question like this? Easy!
Me (scanning comments rapidly): Uh-oh. Getting close, here.
Comment 9: “My husband is autistic, and this is exactly how he acts!”
Me: Yes! I win!
Me: Well, at least this person is actually married to someone autistic.
Me: Usually it’s some yo-yo saying, “I’ll bet that weirdo they’re writing about is on the spectrum.”
Me: I’m really starting to hate that phrase, by the way.
Me: It sounds clinical, so all the civilians think they become geniuses as soon as they say it.
Me: Plus whatever they just said can’t possibly be offensive now!
Me: “If I say ‘on the spectrum,’ no one can get mad at me just because I never talk about autism unless I’m suggesting it’s why some people are weird and annoying.”
Me: “Plus hello yes I am scientist now.”
Me: Here’s a thought – leave autism out of it!
Me: In this context, it has nothing to do with how you should respond to the situation!
Me: The question wasn’t from someone seeking a diagnosis, or wondering if someone they know should seek one.
Me: People never write in to talk about autism unless they’re bragging about being hero parents.
Me: In this case, whether the person’s autistic or not has ZERO impact on what you should do!
Me: Which, for the record, is to take a breath, don’t get angry, and start speaking up, calmly but firmly.
Me: “Excuse me – I wasn’t finished talking.”
Me: “Sorry – I wanted to hear the end of Jackie’s story.”
Me: Repeat as necessary.
Me: That’s it!
Me: No autism required!
Me: Same kind of thing with probably ninety percent of the situations people describe in letters to the advice columnist. The person writing in needs help with some phrasing, or they need a reality check, or both.
Me: Either way, they just need to figure out a way to get their own support needs met without harming anyone else.
Me: It’s not helpful to start jabbering about oh those wacky autistic people what WILL they do next.
Me: And seriously. You can’t blame autism every time someone’s a pain in the ass. We’re barely two percent of the population.
Me: Even given the fact that those numbers are undoubtedly low thanks to how difficult it can be to get a diagnosis, there just aren’t enough of us to go around. I mean, talk about your labor shortages.
Coordinator (visibly perspiring): Okay, we’re going to need someone to run over to Long Island. This woman just wrote in complaining that her boyfriend seems distant sometimes, so she thinks he “might be on the spectrum.”
Autistic population: (GROAN)
Coordinator: Come on, people. Griping doesn’t get the work done. Who’s free? Colin? Can you cover this?
Colin: I was occasionally-distant boyfriend last time!
Me: Enough is enough. You neurotypicals and other non-autistic people are going to have to grapple with the fact that – brace yourself – if you had your collective act together, the advice columns would be monthly rather than daily.
Me: And even then, they’d be hurting for material. Carolyn Hax and Amy Dickinson and Miss Manners would be running around spreading gossip and throwing shade and encouraging terrible behavior in a desperate attempt to drum up business.
Me: For reals. Stop hauling out the A-word every time someone is shy, or doesn’t talk enough, or talks too much, or doesn’t want to go out with you, or does want to go out with you, or doesn’t share their deepest feelings, or over-shares at every opportunity.
Me: It’s not accurate, and it isn’t fair.
Me: If you never talk about autistic people’s good qualities, you don’t get to only haul out the idea of autism when you think someone’s annoying. That’s the rule now. Sorry.
Me: I am scientist, and I have spoken.
2 thoughts on “Call An Autistic!”
Miss Manners is the greatest advice columnist in the history of ever. Fight me. 🙂
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And also you are perfectly correct. Oh, there ought to be a law, like Godwin’s Law. We can call it the Bitter Austistic’s Law? Probably needs to be punchier. Markus’ Law!
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