How and Why Neurotypicals Misunderstand and Mistreat Us

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ASPartOfMe
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27 Oct 2021, 8:40 am

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Heini Natri

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Autistic people are often misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, and mistreated by allistic (non-autistic) peers, researchers, and clinicians.

A number of recent empirical studies have examined how neurotypicals perceive and judge autistics, shedding light on the social barriers faced by autistics in a world built for neurotypicals: Allistic peers are less likely to interact with autistic people because of immediate and unconscious negative judgments that are based purely on social communication style, and not substance. Autistic people are also often perceived by neurotypicals as deceptive or lacking credibility.

It is obvious how this bias and negative judgment can lead to discrimination, exclusion, and bullying, negatively affecting autistic people’s lives and wellbeing

DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) emphasize “persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction.” However, recent studies clearly demonstrate that instead of exhibiting deficiencies, autistic people have a distinct mode of social communication.

A study investigating interpersonal rapport among autistic, mixed, and non-autistic pairs shows that neurotype-matched pairs report higher levels of rapport than mixed autistic-allistic pairs. A further study connects this to specific social signals: autistic people engage in less mutual gaze and backchanneling (e.g., nods and “mmhm”) than allistics, and mutual gaze is connected to ratings of rapport in mixed and non-autistic pairs, but not in autistic pairs. This recapitulates the finding that the negative impression formed by neurotypicals is connected to communication style and not substance.

Moreover, information transfer between autistic people is highly efficient and does not differ from neurotypicals, supporting the model of distinct modes of social communication as opposed to a deficit: just as there are no major communication barriers between most neurotypicals, there are no communication issues between most autistic people.

These studies support the Double Empathy Problem—a framework that describes the mismatch between autistic and allistic social communication. The Double Empathy Problem suggests that “autistic people have difficulty fitting into society not just because they misunderstand others but also because they are misunderstood by others.”

While autistic people are forced to understand and predict neurotypical behavior, allistics are remarkably bad at empathizing with autistic people. Inability to empathize can translate to a lack of compassion towards autistics and contribute to the pathologization of autistic traits. This pathologization has led to interventions that focus solely on suppressing behaviors that are considered odd or aberrant by neurotypicals. In fact, some commonly used autism interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), have been found to be both ineffective and abusive, inflicting trauma on those subjected to them.

The autism treatment market in the US is estimated at $2 billion and is predicted to continue to grow in the future, largely due to the increase in the number of ABA programs across the country. This is despite the lack of evidence of long-term efficacy, lack of research on non-speaking autistics, and the failure of researchers to report adverse events.

Often included in behavioral modification programs, social skills training (SST) curricula aim to teach autistics to imitate neurotypical behavior and social communication style and are based on the flawed view that autistic social communication is disordered. SST approaches have been criticized for their shaky theoretical basis and lack of convincing empirical support, as well as for their harmfulness by inhibiting authenticity and contributing to the stigma associated with autism.

Interventions should be safe and evidence-based, and the fact that approaches such as ABA and SST are still considered the gold standard reflects a wider problem and lack of accountability in psychiatry and clinical psychology.

The world punishes autistic people for displaying their autistic traits, leading to masking even without interventions. Being rejected, marginalized, and receiving the constant message that everything that is intrinsic to them is wrong or unacceptable is a continuous source of trauma: society rarely produces non-traumatized autistics.

The pathologization of and the disdain towards autistic traits and people has led to the development of flawed and harmful theories, many of which have since been debunked but still continue to cause harm by contributing to stigma and dehumanization. Most notably, the idea that autistic people lack theory of mind

All these issues contribute to the disenfranchisement of and health disparities affecting autistic people:

As autistic people are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by neurotypicals, it is crucial that the mental health care of autistic individuals is neurodiversity-affirming, patient-led, anti-authoritarian, respects patient autonomy, and allows the autistic person to live as their authentic self.

Peer support and mentoring can be particularly helpful for newly diagnosed autistics: in a recent study, newly identified autistics attending a peer-led program were particularly appreciative of the autistic-led nature of the program, the diversity within the program, and reported that the program helped them develop a more positive outlook on autism.

Additionally, training programs targeted at neurotypicals can help increase knowledge of and reduce the stigma surrounding autism, speaking to the importance of, for example, workplace training in creating and cultivating a healthy, neuroaffirming environment.

Despite all the recent advances in understanding the two distinct modes of social communication, nearly all autism studies, particularly in biomedicine, psychiatry, and genetics, still frame the work around the deficiency model. Unfortunately, most mental health practitioners do not know how to differentiate between neurological differences, psychiatric states, personality traits, and trauma, and have a poor understanding of the complex interactions within and between these distinct layers of complexity and the environment, emotions, and behavior. When researchers and clinicians try to understand autism and autistic behavior in the context of neurotypical psychology, they will inevitably make incorrect assumptions, leading to ineffective and even harmful interventions.

Moreover, the DSM-5 criteria for ASD and the diagnostic assessment are based purely on behavior, and trying to infer neurological variation from behavior is an approach that is deeply flawed and unreliable.

Acceptance begets confidence, and eventually, this will lead to the empowerment and better wellbeing of all neurominorities.

I want to thank Rachel Zanoni for originating the idea of The Privilege Problem and for comments on a previous version of this essay.


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27 Oct 2021, 1:24 pm

Gee. It's almost like Autistics have been stranded on the wrong planet!


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27 Oct 2021, 1:33 pm

It makes it sound like different species.


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02 Nov 2021, 5:28 am

I often get (subtly) rejected or excluded from my peers, and judged by strangers. It is all rather traumatizing for me, which is why I am suffering a crippling hatred of autism and an agonizing jealousy of NT people.


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02 Nov 2021, 5:45 am

Actually I'll be honest, the more I try and understand my daughter, the more mysterious her mind is to me. Maybe there is something to this.



carlos55
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02 Nov 2021, 8:52 am

Because nearly all animals on the planet have an established hardwired inbuilt behavior or code in how they interact with others of the same species.

Two dogs will behave in a particular way around each other so they understand the others intentions

Humans are no exception and like animals it’s there to protect against danger and recognize potential friendly or sexual partners.

A woman will be alarmed if a man she doesn’t know is starring at her intensely in a bus or she’s being followed home by a man late at night for example. This is natural inbuilt fight or flight

Sometimes I can feel the disdain from the other person who smiles and makes eye contact but receives nothing back, which makes me feel guilty of creating this bad feeling in others.

Not sure what the short term answer here is. It’s certainly not education since most NT are not interested in what autistic people go through and we don’t walk around with signs on our heads


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02 Nov 2021, 12:38 pm

I thought I read somewhere that it's alexithymia that dictates eye gazing and behavioral stuff more than autism did?..

If so, then is there such thing as born alexithymic?..
Because alexithymia is a personality construct and sometimes a symptom.

Also it's yet to be taken account around the mechanisms of expressive dyssemia when it comes to body language...



My mom loves and accepts me.
Upon the realization that I'm not an ungrateful brat to of an NT instead of an misunderstood ND, she realized her mistake and changed.

Even after that and years of living with me, she still doesn't understand.

Despite having been surrounded by people, including potentially ND ones, she couldn't grasp what and how I perceive things, let alone my mind.

All she knows is that I don't like this, I like that... A few communicated stuff of how we want our life or two, inquire if I could do favors or so-so... Hanging out and sharing in silence. :o It's enough for me.

She trusts that I'm informed enough to consent what my decisions are, how I manage it and that's more than enough.
If I'm not informed enough I'd ask her and she'll give the suggestions to me, and let me judge it.
... Although she gets a bit overprotective sometimes if I'm upset about something or know I'd be upset... I can always tell to leave it alone, and usually knows I prefer her to.


While she cannot comprehend me as an autistic...
The one thing she comprehends well is my self determination. And that's because it's a very relatable thing to her



As for everyone else? Depends who they are and if they matter to me.

I came from a culture that is inclined to tolerate and accommodate different cultures anyway. I'd outgrow the "need" for double empathy if I keep up the pace because it's already there all this time.
Of course I cannot say the same for everyone.

People at large would just assume I came from elsewhere or brought up differently and having different tastes... One may judge and assume, but not outright rejection.
Probably because I do not register as creepy enough. At worst, I'm registered as confusing and hard to deal with. :lol:


If a person can't read me and I can't read them, that person won't assume because I'm autistic and therefore it's 'my autisms fault'. :roll:

No, it'll be a mutual understanding of a misunderstanding.
It'll be up to our patience to level another until it's resolved or one of us is too frustrated to continue, or if someone starts the stupid game of who wins and who loses...

:P And personally, I have more issues around language communication than body language.
I'd likely be noticed as someone with APD or mistaken for someone deaf, than someone lounging around out of place.

At worst, with only looking at me, someone may laugh at stimming.
But then, experience told me people are more wary and even the source of bullying was my constant sneezing.



So, solution?
I think maybe not attitudinal barriers against autism. Not really.
Not even awareness when it's not necessary, so not even education or open knowledge. It may even exacerbate with knowledge.

"Severe" ones could deal with disability attitudinal issues directly.
Be it ID or dyspraxia or sensory issues or unmanageable mental health and behavioral issues.
It's not all autism because they'd deal with it regardless whether someone coded them as autistic or not.

It goes beyond that -- it lies in social conditioning and how 'weird body language' is as a 'red flag'.
Not ableism, but somewhere definitely subtle, deeper yet also shallower at the same time... It could simply chalk down to cultural or some collective context.

It's out of advocacy and politics domain. It lies somewhere in the foundations.
How? I think some form of homogeneity. Then get rid of the homogeneous foundation and replace it with heterogeneous.

In other words, go multi cultural. :lol:


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carlos55
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03 Nov 2021, 8:34 am

It’s complicated since it’s like asking people to not trust their basic assumptions about body language and behavior which is sometimes correct.

So like asking the woman to ignore a man’s behavior who’s acting creepy around her and trust he won’t rape her

Trust the man who talking to a child he’s not a peadophille

Trust the teen in school who’s acting strange he’s not the next mass shooter.

The problem is autistic people have all committed these crimes so it’s a bit of a double bluff.

Just because someone is autistic and behaving differently doesn’t mean their behavior is benevolent.


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03 Nov 2021, 9:22 am

carlos55 wrote:
It’s complicated since it’s like asking people to not trust their basic assumptions about body language and behavior which is sometimes correct.

So like asking the woman to ignore a man’s behavior who’s acting creepy around her and trust he won’t rape her

Trust the man who talking to a child he’s not a peadophille

Trust the teen in school who’s acting strange he’s not the next mass shooter.

The problem is autistic people have all committed these crimes so it’s a bit of a double bluff.

Just because someone is autistic and behaving differently doesn’t mean their behavior is benevolent.

"Sometimes" correct is also mean "sometimes" wrong.

Indeed it is right that it is complicated.
However you obviously don't get the point.

The issue is in the foundations of societal conditioning, deeper than any judicial systems could reach for now.
Autism does not even came to mind, except for coincidences or conveniences.

Also you underestimate humans and overestimate constructed systems created and conditioned to them.



Whether "evil detecting" is sometimes right or wrong -- there's definitely something wrong in any culture that would require constant vigilance for pedophiles and school shooters on a basis of having to deal with them at all.

Whatever unresolve societal issue involving that is hiding in the underground, and "autism" happened to be a perfect scapegoat and tool for manipulative bastards who wanted to escape justice. :lol:
I see it more of a double-triple domino effects problem multiplying themselves.


At least that's how I observed in the internet. It ain't my problem, nor it happens here save for international incidences in the deep and dark web.

I came from places where school shooters are not teenagers on depressants and pedophiles or creeps are not autistic coded or acting like socially awkward clumsy "virgins" next door.

No need for double bluffs, no need for double empathy on that particular set of discrimination -- the double bluff is the other cultures' problem, and therefore "needing" double empathy in that particular set of discrimination.


Also since you're from UK -- my suggestion is get off the US based autism hate sites, usually for the sake of your mental health.
Unless it adds something other than old news, put disclaimers the data came from the US, or that it also does reflect the UK and the reality of your country's situation since you brought up school shooters and pedophiles. :P


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carlos55
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03 Nov 2021, 3:04 pm

Quote:
"Sometimes" correct is also mean "sometimes" wrong.

Indeed it is right that it is complicated.
However you obviously don't get the point.

The issue is in the foundations of societal conditioning, deeper than any judicial systems could reach for now.
Autism does not even came to mind, except for coincidences or conveniences.

Also you underestimate humans and overestimate constructed systems created and conditioned to them.



Whether "evil detecting" is sometimes right or wrong -- there's definitely something wrong in any culture that would require constant vigilance for pedophiles and school shooters on a basis of having to deal with them at all.

Whatever unresolve societal issue involving that is hiding in the underground, and "autism" happened to be a perfect scapegoat and tool for manipulative bastards who wanted to escape justice. :lol:
I see it more of a double-triple domino effects problem multiplying themselves.


At least that's how I observed in the internet. It ain't my problem, nor it happens here save for international incidences in the deep and dark web.

I came from places where school shooters are not teenagers on depressants and pedophiles or creeps are not autistic coded or acting like socially awkward clumsy "virgins" next door.

No need for double bluffs, no need for double empathy on that particular set of discrimination -- the double bluff is the other cultures' problem, and therefore "needing" double empathy in that particular set of discrimination.


Also since you're from UK -- my suggestion is get off the US based autism hate sites, usually for the sake of your mental health.
Unless it adds something other than old news, put disclaimers the data came from the US, or that it also does reflect the UK and the reality of your country's situation since you brought up school shooters and pedophiles. :P



The point is maybe someone thought Jake Davison and Adam Lanza were behaving oddly, maybe they knew they had a mental health disorder and decided to ignore their basic instinct & those people went on to be mass shooters.

Maybe someone thought Jonty Bravery was a bit odd in the crowd at the tate modern and decided to ignore it & he went on to pick up a random kid and throw him from the roof.

Then you`ll get the public blaming & finger pointing and the media cries of why didn`t anyone do anything or spot odd behaviour sooner.

So asking society to turn a blind eye to odd behaviour in the hope that the person is just harmless autistic won`t work because sometimes autistic people do bad things just like NTs.

I don`t really know of any autism hate sites by the way


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04 Nov 2021, 6:53 pm

You need to be completely insane and out of your mind to murder other people just because you're insecure about yourself. It's a shame those evil bastards, Jake Davison and Adam Lanza, shot themselves - because really they needed to rot in prison and be punished for the rest of their sad pathetic lives.

I've always been really angry and insecure about myself, and if you read some of my posts you'll see that I have a lot of rage and despair about how society treats autistic people and how I'm not good enough to be friends with my NT peers and how I'm the only one out of my cousins with autism and how jealous I get of NTs and so on. But despite all that, I would never, ever even dream of killing people because of how I feel. Why should an innocent person tragically lose their life because I can't handle my insecurities? If the worst does come to the worst, I'd commit suicide but not kill others first.
So I'm sorry but I don't have any sympathy for these sick, f****d up losers. I hate them. I hate all murderers and serial killers. Absolute scum of the Earth.

Also, 2 questions:

1. Why do these sickos shoot others first before shooting themselves? Why don't they just shoot themselves first and spare the lives of innocent people?

2. Why do these shooters kill their mothers first?

Sickos.


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carlos55
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05 Nov 2021, 7:16 am

Joe90 wrote:
You need to be completely insane and out of your mind to murder other people just because you're insecure about yourself. It's a shame those evil bastards, Jake Davison and Adam Lanza, shot themselves - because really they needed to rot in prison and be punished for the rest of their sad pathetic lives.

I've always been really angry and insecure about myself, and if you read some of my posts you'll see that I have a lot of rage and despair about how society treats autistic people and how I'm not good enough to be friends with my NT peers and how I'm the only one out of my cousins with autism and how jealous I get of NTs and so on. But despite all that, I would never, ever even dream of killing people because of how I feel. Why should an innocent person tragically lose their life because I can't handle my insecurities? If the worst does come to the worst, I'd commit suicide but not kill others first.
So I'm sorry but I don't have any sympathy for these sick, f****d up losers. I hate them. I hate all murderers and serial killers. Absolute scum of the Earth.

Also, 2 questions:

1. Why do these sickos shoot others first before shooting themselves? Why don't they just shoot themselves first and spare the lives of innocent people?

2. Why do these shooters kill their mothers first?

Sickos.


In making a rare defense of autism these kind of things occur with NTs too.

A NT father is going through a hard divorce and kills his kids as revenge.

A stockbroker looses all his money and decides to kill his family instead of admitting he’s a looser to them.

Plenty of NT cases of this

I suspect it’s an explosive act of anger and revenge on others or society in general with pent up anger sometimes directed at parents blaming them because they failed in life.

Those few who were autistic who did these kind of things I suspect have to blame someone and it’s easier to direct at a person or society than just admit s**t happens in life where your born with a brain or body that gives you a disadvantage over others.

It’s hard in the UK but I understand in US culture there is more of a Darwinian trumpism winner takes all and forget about the rest, where “winning” is crucial than elsewhere.

Those that appear “losers” are generally rejected or ignored by others, this can cause great psychological distress to those disadvantaged in any way that comes out in an explosive anger.

Like the high school kid that’s ugly and doesn’t feel good at anything can’t fit in, can’t get a girlfriend may decide to take his dads gun and take out his classmates as a last act of revenge.

But basically I was just saying interpreting behavior in others is hardwired and ignoring it can have serious consequences so demanding behavior is ignored or certain members of society get a free pass for odd behavior is unrealistic.


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05 Nov 2021, 7:45 am

carlos55 wrote:
But basically I was just saying interpreting behavior in others is hardwired and ignoring it can have serious consequences so demanding behavior is ignored or certain members of society get a free pass for odd behavior is unrealistic.

With that logic, then prejudice is hardwired, which is absurd itself.
Dangerous or not dangerous, it is still prejudice.

Again, you underestimate humans innate ability.
And overestimate things humans acquire.
If someone cannot divide that, then this person couldn't understand my point.



If science is going to make a new research about double empathy...
Since alexithymia is already out there and as a variable, I wonder when others would keep up with dyssemia.

Dyssemia is not limited but very common in autism. It is the very trait that affects nonverbal language expressions and interpretations. This trait is also not exclusive to autism.


However in double empathy... It goes beyond just body language expressions, but the entirety of theory of mind.

One cannot simply know if a person is bombarded with overload and dealing with overwhelm when the person's reaction looked too happy to be coping. :lol:
Or passing as if nothing is happening in general.
At worst a person already shuts down, in overwhelm stimming and wanting to go home -- and people judge this person as "a lazy and slow worthless dumbass spazzing in public".

:roll: Applying this in criminal law and intent is a funny hype.
Limiting it to criminal law and sense of danger discrimination meant someone fell for the hype.
I don't think it would just get there until mundane daily living issues are addressed.


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carlos55
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05 Nov 2021, 8:08 am

Edna3362 wrote:
carlos55 wrote:
But basically I was just saying interpreting behavior in others is hardwired and ignoring it can have serious consequences so demanding behavior is ignored or certain members of society get a free pass for odd behavior is unrealistic.

With that logic, then prejudice is hardwired, which is absurd itself.
Dangerous or not dangerous, it is still prejudice.

Again, you underestimate humans innate ability.
And overestimate things humans acquire.
If someone cannot divide that, then this person couldn't understand my point.



If science is going to make a new research about double empathy...
Since alexithymia is already out there and as a variable, I wonder when others would keep up with dyssemia.

Dyssemia is not limited but very common in autism. It is the very trait that affects nonverbal language expressions and interpretations. This trait is also not exclusive to autism.


However in double empathy... It goes beyond just body language expressions, but the entirety of theory of mind.

One cannot simply know if a person is bombarded with overload and dealing with overwhelm when the person's reaction looked too happy to be coping. :lol:
Or passing as if nothing is happening in general.
At worst a person already shuts down, in overwhelm stimming -- and people judge this person as "a lazy and slow worthless dumbass spazzing in public".

:roll: Applying this in criminal law and intent is a funny hype.
Limiting it to criminal law and sense of danger discrimination meant someone fell for the hype.
I don't think it would just get there until mundane daily living issues are addressed.


Yes prejudice is hardwired when someone speaks to someone for the first time the recipient are already making judgments on intelligence, attractiveness, class and potential danger among other things within the first few seconds based on the speech and behavior

You can maybe change certain attitudes around race and gender but they are not behaviors.

You may as well try demanding straight men not to be attracted to young women.


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05 Nov 2021, 8:36 am

Joe90 wrote:

1. Why do these sickos shoot others first before shooting themselves? Why don't they just shoot themselves first and spare the lives of innocent people?

2. Why do these shooters kill their mothers first?

Sickos.


From my experience, just look at the Red Lion, PA Junior High School Shootings. The Red Lion Area School District is staffed by immature jocks in administration. I graduated from there in 1976. While the shootings happened in the early 2000’s, I’m surprised it didn’t happen 25 years before that incident (and I’m surprised that I didn’t think of shooting up the high school back in the 1970’s). The faculty, in addition to administration were just as much a bunch of immature jocks. That, as well as the borough of Red Lion, the populous are of the mindset if you don’t live, work and worship within the borough limits, you are a non-person. It’s this closed-mindedness to so-called outsiders that drives a person up the wall.

Shooting your classmates is the final result of crying for help. By that time, It’s too late to offer any kind of help.

As for the shooters killing their mothers, it wouldn’t surprise that all kinds of abuse from the parents would be a significant contribution to those actions.

Those are just my opinions. And, as the old saying goes, “Opinions are like A$$holes: everybody has one, and they all stink!”



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05 Nov 2021, 2:31 pm

Edna3362 wrote:
carlos55 wrote:
But basically I was just saying interpreting behavior in others is hardwired and ignoring it can have serious consequences so demanding behavior is ignored or certain members of society get a free pass for odd behavior is unrealistic.

With that logic, then prejudice is hardwired, which is absurd itself.
Dangerous or not dangerous, it is still prejudice.

Again, you underestimate humans innate ability.
And overestimate things humans acquire.
If someone cannot divide that, then this person couldn't understand my point.



If science is going to make a new research about double empathy...
Since alexithymia is already out there and as a variable, I wonder when others would keep up with dyssemia.

Dyssemia is not limited but very common in autism. It is the very trait that affects nonverbal language expressions and interpretations. This trait is also not exclusive to autism.


However in double empathy... It goes beyond just body language expressions, but the entirety of theory of mind.

One cannot simply know if a person is bombarded with overload and dealing with overwhelm when the person's reaction looked too happy to be coping. :lol:
Or passing as if nothing is happening in general.
At worst a person already shuts down, in overwhelm stimming and wanting to go home -- and people judge this person as "a lazy and slow worthless dumbass spazzing in public".

:roll: Applying this in criminal law and intent is a funny hype.
Limiting it to criminal law and sense of danger discrimination meant someone fell for the hype.
I don't think it would just get there until mundane daily living issues are addressed.


Not familiar with the term alexithymia, but familiar with the words "you wanna fight? Quit looking at me" when walking through a rough neighborhood coming from people who are not autistic, but surely dislike eye contact enough to kill you over making it accidentally because they assume eye contact is a bad thing no matter what.