West coast better at accepting differences than East Coast?

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schleppenheimer
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16 Aug 2008, 9:48 am

We've lived most of our married lives on the East Coast, raising one AS son almost exclusively there. But my NT daughter and I had a discussion last night about the differences when we lived in California vs. the East Coast -- i.e. more cliques, more "keeping up with the Joneses", and just plain less acceptance of others when living on the East Coast, whereas the one year we were living in California, our two older kids felt instant acceptance. [the downside was that the education for our newly diagnosed five-year-old was totally inappropriate]

Hubby is considering (again) a job on the west coast, and my NT daughter, who is looking out for our AS son (12 years old) thinks that a move might be helpful for him.

My question: -- do you find less acceptance on the East Coast of your AS tendencies? and more acceptance on the West Coast?



KimJ
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16 Aug 2008, 10:08 am

I grew up in Northern California and moved back briefly 4 years ago. I found it just as bigoted and insular as the Midwest was, in terms of racism and dislike of "otherness". Where I lived, being sociable was on par with morality, if you didn't know how to speak well, smile pretty and make proper eye contact, you were the Big Jerk.
People weren't as open with their bigotry as they were in the Midwest.
I've heard different stories and there may just be pockets of good and bad.



Nan
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16 Aug 2008, 10:24 am

I've lived in the east (greater NY area), deep south, the southwest, as well as on the west coast. I think the previous writer had something... it depends. I know that we have experienced much less in the way of a push to "be normal" here in Southern California than we have anywhere else. Part of that is that the place is already ethnically and culturally wildly diverse and so we're just two more unique souls.

There are pockets here - certain neighborhoods are pretty homogenous as far as cultures and attitudes. We have been able to see which ones those are and have avoided them in favor of more mixed places. We've done just fine. My daughter went, for a bit, to a ghetto school where he being white was way more of a problem than being Aspie. Later she went to a performing and creative arts magnet school, where the kids were, again, all over the place as far as cultures, talents, abilities, intellectual firepower, etc., and she blended in well enough to be the captain of their academic decathalon team, have a few recruiters from arts schools pursuing her for college, and have a number of good friends. In fact, we never identified her as an Aspie and so she was just considered "odd" and still did quite well - they worked with her as they would any kid, I worked with her to help her socially with the few things I've learned, and she pretty much learned to cope. As for me, I've been working out here for going on 20 years now, and only last year mentioned to my bosses that I'm Aspie. That was met with "Oh, really? What's that?" and it's never been mentioned again.

I have suspected that some of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy - we avoid the types of people we do not like to be around and settled in an area that suits us. It hasn't been a bed of roses all along (the schools were spectacularly bad, academically, so I had to do the enrichment teaching myself), and there are other sorts of social pressures here that you might not encounter elsewhere, but all-in-all it was the right choice for us.



Last edited by Nan on 16 Aug 2008, 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

blueroses
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16 Aug 2008, 10:48 am

I've been an East Coast person my entire life, so I can't offer much in terms of personal experience. My last boyfriend, though, had recently moved to Philadelphia from Southern California to attend grad school. He commented a lot on how much more active the AS community was on the West Coast and how much of a stronger presence the community seemed to have. I never got the impression that LA was a more accepting city than Philly, but I think that having a stronger support network out there made being part of a minority feel much easier for him.



ster
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16 Aug 2008, 10:51 am

i've been an East Coast person all of my life as well.....i've had periods of time when i've been surrounded by bullies & periods of time when i've been surrounded by friends. i've been to schools that have been great & schools that had sucky services. so much depends upon the individual school district you're in. you can be in a great school district & then move one town over & be in a snotty, poorly serviced district. i don't think that this is just an East Coast thing......



Triangular_Trees
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16 Aug 2008, 1:01 pm

I think you need to be a lot more specific than just "east coast" and "west coast."

I live in what I consider to be the east coast. My bf and I often go out while he is wearing skirts/dresses. most people don't even stare. Very few ever make any comments about it.

However New England has a reputation for being avidly against anyone who hasn't lived there for a few generations - I can't say if thats true or not, but even John Steinbeck recorded that police officers there were like that.

Then of course there is the size of the community - small towns, in general, are far less accepting than cities.

Also the closer you are to a large university (not including community colleges or technical schools) the more acceptances you will experience



jul
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16 Aug 2008, 1:04 pm

I'm from upstate New York originally, and while I am not diagnosed as yet, I am definitely different, I am not socially composed, nor typical for any sort of South Cal look, and I get really judged for that. People here are far more judgemental and material than people on the East Coast and they are far more insulated in the fact that they just want you to fit in with one of their groups, whatever that group may be, punk, ghetto, or beverly hills, and if you don't fit in, they, meaning people I meet in shops or anywhere else, tend to be snooty and unfriendly. (Unless it is quite apparent that you are super rich. Then they don't care if you are purple with pink polka dots as long as you drive the most expensive car.) East Coast people just accept you as who you are. If they don't like you, you will know. Out here, you will find out because they will stab you in the back, but be friendly to your face. I hate that. I'm super naive and I don't see that kind of crap coming. I really hate it out here and I want to move. I have noticed that there is MeetUp page for Los Angeles area for people with AS, if that helps you.



KimJ
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16 Aug 2008, 2:17 pm

omg, jul, that is so right!

Just for clarification, I've never been to the East Coast, just the Midwest (Indiana/Michigan), Northern Plains (WY), Southwest (Tucson) and Northern CA (Bay Area and Sacramento Valley).



Bozewani
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16 Aug 2008, 2:26 pm

I live in Princeton, NJ and just what you thought the stereotypes are true.

We are a veryfar left liberal town and we seen it all, (even things that our friends in the "city" havent, and if you don't know what "city" I am mentioning, take a wild guess).

People here are so "whatever, whatever".



schleppenheimer
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16 Aug 2008, 6:24 pm

Good point, in that it depends . . . especially if you've lived near a big university.

We've lived in the following areas:

. . . near San Francisco (seems fairly accepting)

. . . western Massachusetts (HIGHLY accepting -- like living in Berkley, CA)
[and it's true -- if you didn't have New England ancestors, you would never be accepted fully by natives]

. . . suburban Pittsburgh, PA (incredibly cliquish)

. . . Sacramento, CA (very accepting of differences)

So maybe the key is to move to an area right next to a big university -- for that wonderful bohemian attitude!



Triangular_Trees
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17 Aug 2008, 6:47 am

Quote:
suburban Pittsburgh, PA (incredibly cliquish)


When was that? Because I can say from personal experience, that suburbab pittsburghers typically don't bat an eye when they see obviously transgendered people walking about, even in large groups



jul
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17 Aug 2008, 1:41 pm

KimJ wrote:
omg, jul, that is so right!

Just for clarification, I've never been to the East Coast, just the Midwest (Indiana/Michigan), Northern Plains (WY), Southwest (Tucson) and Northern CA (Bay Area and Sacramento Valley).


Thanks for the shout out KIMJ! I have to agree with what was mentioned on Pittsburgh in a couple posts. I lived on the South Side (I'm an alumna of Univ. of PIttsburgh)(Yea, alumna is the right word. 8) The South Side of Pittsburgh could be very bohemian on one hand, with edgy, punk/skateboard shops (and crossdressing bars!), cool little restaurants etc, but then the attitude of a lot of people is so clicky (sp?) and ultra-conservative. It is not just the suburbs though. It's all over. A lot of people there really only like who they know and grow up with. New Jersey and Massachusetts sound nice though. :)



DW_a_mom
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17 Aug 2008, 2:19 pm

I expect that a lot of factors come into play. You are looking for an area that is diverse in every way possible, I think, and encouraging of it.

Where I live AS is very accepted simply because there is so much of it. We have a cluster of industries that attract AS adults, or NT adults with many AS traits, and the genetics means more AS kids. But, even so, among our local schools acceptance varies.

What area would you be moving to?

I think what I would do, if you move, is rent for a while. You are likely to have lots of choices in neighborhoods within commute distance for your husband, so keep it open to finding a different one if the first doesn't offer all that you would like. What is good for a child with AS isn't always going to follow the general buzz and other things you can discover from a distance, so you won't really know until you are there.


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Mom to an amazing AS son, who recently graduated from the university (plus an also amazing non-AS daughter). Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


schleppenheimer
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17 Aug 2008, 3:56 pm

We currently live in a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, at a very competitive high school area. Part of what we originally liked about the area was that they understood AS in the school district, and provided accordingly in the way of special help.

As our son grows, he is needing less and less special help, but he is still labeled as "different" by peers (and even some teachers). I've been very happy with the district and the teachers, but I can see that things will be harder for my son if we stay here -- the right clothes are very important, there's a lot of drinking and social climbing going on (as there is in any high school, for sure), and because he's so innocent, he will continue to be labeled as slightly "off" and rarely given credit for how bright he really is.

We have found, with our older son, that a move at just the right time can do wonders for self esteem. Things that were considered "odd" with his friends on the East Coast were suddenly considered "new and unusual" by the bohemian crowd on the West Coast (in Utah, and/or Sacramento).

Hubby is applying for a job in the Seattle area, but we are willing to look in a very wide area because he is already used to a huge commute (1 1/2 hours one way). When we were considering this move a few years ago, we were looking at top schools because we had to consider our NT daughter (who's a senior this year). Now that she's actually a senior (and very inclined toward the move) we are less interested in a high stress high school, and more interested in a laid back school where friendliness is high on the list, rather than academics.