Since I’m on the subject of autism anyways, let me address one more topic. I was asked a while ago to blog about the difficulties that might arise between autistics and non-autistics in terms of processing emotions. Contrary to what many pseudo-specialists claim, autistics do have a very rich emotional range. However, we might come off as unemotional and distant because we process and express emotions in a different way from the NT (neurotypical) people.
Again, I want to repeat that everybody manifests differently and my experience might not resonate with many autistics.
Whenever I think about the emotional expressions of NT people, the word “manipulative” is the first that comes to mind. As an autistic, I tend to be very logical, reasonable and organized about everything, including my emotions. My husband knows that the best way to drive me to distraction (and into a huge panic attack) is by having unexplained mood swings. I do not believe in mood swings, to tell you the truth. I don’t think that anybody just becomes sad or happy or anything else for no discernible reason. It only seems like that happens because sometimes one is too lazy to analyze what put one in this particular mood. It’s this emotional sloppiness that I dislike about non-autistics. If you feel whatever it is you feel, you better have a good explanation of why you feel it and what you expect me to do in response.
And believe me, after I taught N. how to identify the sources of one’s moods, he became really good at it. This is why I don’t trust anybody who is “just moody” or “just hormonal.” I know that this is a manipulative strategy aimed at provoking a sense of vague guilt in me. And the perennially guilty people are the easiest to dominate.
So my suggestion is: let’s stop treating emotions as a tool of beating each other into submission. Let’s analyze and verbalize as much as possible.
Whenever I bring an emotion of mine to another person, I always accompany it with an explanation of what exactly it is I need from them. “I’m very sad because of this meeting at work. Please sit with me while I tell you once again what happened.” “I’m terrified about my class observation tomorrow. I need you to tell me that I’m a brilliant teacher for the next ten minutes.”