Why does telling NTs I have Asperger's make me feel shame?

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yourkiddingme3
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17 Jul 2016, 4:35 pm

I feel even more shame saying I'm on the autistic spectrum.

Isn't this like feeling shame saying you're tone deaf? Neither is something one can control or change.

I never felt Asperger's or autism was something to be ashamed of before my diagnosis this year at age 63. My reaction to Asperger's in others was just "interesting," and to more debilitating autism was just "bummer." Ditto for people with just face-blindness, which I view as more debilitating than my mere poor facial recognition. Is it just because before now, I assumed I was average at recognizing the emotions of others, but now know how very bad I am at it? I certainly would have behaved differently if I had known before how poorly I was understanding the emotional/normative subtexts that NTs annoyingly insist on deploying. Is it just because I feel like an idiot for failing to recognize past mis-communications before now?

Or is it just because most NTs view and treat spectrics as inferior beings? I mean, the Nazis thought of Jews that way, too. By feeling shame now, even if I intellectually reject the feeling as inappropriate, am I supporting cognitive Nazis? Or am I just over-dramatizing adjustment to a newly-discovered part of me?



Skywatcher1891
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17 Jul 2016, 5:02 pm

I have only told a few people of my own diagnosis and I haven't had any feeling of shame as such.

I think with any condition that is invisible and not widely understood it is natural to be concerned that those you are telling suspect that the diagnosis is wrong or that they may treat you differently knowing of your diagnosis.

The solution is probably to consider that anyone you tell already knows your quirks and would naturally think this is your personality rather than something with an underlying cause.



B19
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17 Jul 2016, 7:12 pm

Shame is a huge issue for all stigmatised groups, and I think it helps to understand the way it is imposed on them. I see what you describe as a much wider issue than an individual one.

Internalised shame has many strands, which may and often does include a feeling of rejection by others which fuses (or can) with self-rejection. As a group, AS people have been continually demonised by stereotypical myths, and we cannot live in the cultures we do without internalising this context of hostility to a greater or lesser extent. One way that AS people can internalise the myths is by shaming themselves, taking on beliefs fed by stereotypes, such as "you are not enough like the others to be accepted or acceptable".

Shame is used as a personal and a cultural weapon, and the legacy damage of that can be like carrying a bag of bricks on your back! It is somewhat true I think that shame-based people (as my caregiver adults were in my 1950s childhood) tend to shame others as their unhealed and grossly dysfunctional way of asserting their power over others - of feeling any form of power. If you have been parented in that way, then you have possibly been hypersensitised to new shaming experiences, and this is impacting on your own personal discovery process and adjustment to AS realisation.

The opposite of shame isn't pride, in my view, but self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and above all, an inner process of self kindness, the recognition of one's intrinsic worth and worthiness. Like shame, kindness and acceptance accorded by ourselves to ourselves increases our capacity to be kinder and more accepting to others.

It is early days for you and quite natural (it seems, from what I have experienced and read here) to have these powerful and mixed feelings during the adjustment process in later life.



saxgeek
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17 Jul 2016, 7:22 pm

It's pretty uncomfortable telling someone that I have Aspergers. It feels so embarrasing like some ugly secret you're hiding from people. However, this one girl I met last summer just thought it was the most awesome thing ever when I told her, and she finally realized why I'm so awkward, so that sort of lessened my shame about it.



ocdgirl123
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17 Jul 2016, 7:42 pm

I feel shame too. I was diagnosed at 5, but my parents didn't tell me until I was 10. I knew the word "autism", because I knew other autistics but didn't know what it was.

I didn't start feeling shame until I was a teenager. It started shortly after s cyber bullying incident where I am was judged because of autism.

I hardly tell any NTs that I have autism. The only ones who know are family and close friends.


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ToughDiamond
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18 Jul 2016, 10:52 am

Maybe it's because you anticipate a social stigma. I think it's fairly normal that if a person thinks they're surrounded by people who hate them, then that person will experience some self-loathing. I think upbringing can come into it too - a lot of people get put down by their caregivers and they grow up being prone to feeling guilt and shame for the slightest reason. Though even if a person is raised to have a good self-image, I suspect there's only so much they can take if they get engulfed for too long by ableist bastards who just want to grind them down.



yourkiddingme3
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18 Jul 2016, 11:29 am

"Like shame, kindness and acceptance accorded by ourselves to ourselves increases our capacity to be kinder and more accepting to others."

If that is not a quote from someone else, you should claim it! It both accords with my experience and is wonderfully put.

However, I have always been hard on myself, only recently letting myself off the "perfectionist" path. It still feels like "giving up," though, like weakness to be scorned. But I thought I only scorned weakness that could be overcome.

I suppose I'm still inching toward the realization that one only has so much energy (used to have so much more), that it is not worth fighting every fight, and that maybe it makes more sense to spend what's left on employing and enjoying my strengths, rather than trying to compensate for my weaknesses. Bigger metaphorical bang for the buck in the former.

Anyhow, I do really appreciate everybody's supportive posts. Not used to that, either. :) Just need to figure out how to do the "quotes in the heading" thing.



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18 Jul 2016, 11:43 am

B19 wrote:
Internalised shame has many strands, which may and often does include a feeling of rejection by others which fuses (or can) with self-rejection. As a group, AS people have been continually demonised by stereotypical myths, and we cannot live in the cultures we do without internalising this context of hostility to a greater or lesser extent. One way that AS people can internalise the myths is by shaming themselves, taking on beliefs fed by stereotypes, such as "you are not enough like the others to be accepted or acceptable".


I have never had a good experience telling people I'm autistic. Disbelief, confusion, ignorance, disregard. I think the main problem is that people don't know what autism is. So when I tell someone I'm autistic I put myself in the position of explaining autism to them, which I can't do. So there is awkwardness and often a loss of closeness.

I posted another thread about a phrase I heard on the news "loon wolf," meaning a lunatic acting alone. Society seems to accept that the mentally ill are a write off, civilization's black sheep. How am I supposed to embrace a culture that greets me with suspicion and disregard?



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18 Jul 2016, 12:10 pm

^
Personally I wouldn't embrace it. I might oppose it, negotiate with it, or join in with carefully-selected small bits of it, but that's all.



foxfield
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18 Jul 2016, 4:40 pm

I'm quite a noticeably odd person - I dress oddly, act oddly, think about things oddly. Been like that my whole life, and I feel not much shame about that at all even when people point, laugh and stare.

Strangely though I do feel very ashamed about telling people I have Aspergers. I think its mostly because people tend to think Im being over dramatic or that Im trying to pass myself off as a special snowflake.

I also feel ashamed because autism is a wide spectrum and many people have much more severe problems than me. Sometimes when saying Im on the spectrum it feels like Im stealing the diagnosis and label away from people more severely affected, and that makes me feel guilty.



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18 Jul 2016, 4:53 pm

I understand. OP, unfortunately sometimes some members here try to shame others too. Only a few, thankfully, though you will encounter it sooner or later. However when you do see it in context - these people are trying to make themselves feel good by trying to make someone else feel bad - and the report button is there for a purpose!



sonicallysensitive
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18 Jul 2016, 5:29 pm

Why does telling NTs I have Asperger's make me feel shame?


Because we are diagnosed with a disability they don't have, and, on one level, we are inferior to them.



kraftiekortie
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18 Jul 2016, 5:35 pm

Nope...we are not "inferior" to anybody else, per se.

We might have an "inferior" ability to pick up social cues---but many NT's have the same "inferior" ability.

We are only "inferior" if we think of ourselves as "inferior." Or if we do inferior things, like give up.



sonicallysensitive
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18 Jul 2016, 5:46 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
Nope...we are not "inferior" to anybody else, per se.

We might have an "inferior" ability to pick up social cues---but many NT's have the same "inferior" ability.

We are only "inferior" if we think of ourselves as "inferior." Or if we do inferior things, like give up.
Wrong.

We are inferior when it comes to social communication.


Hence many feel shame.


Which I don't see there being anything wrong with.


Better to be honest with ourselves and admit that we are inferior in terms of our disability than to create a false persona.


Paraplegics are inferior runners to most on this forum. That's just fact - and we shouldn't hide from the facts/create a false image.


Any view on this forum that doesn't resort to giving others virtual hugs is generally dismissed as trolling/shaming. When - in many instances, these opposing views are often pure, unbridled truth.


I'm not asking anyone to like what I write - but it is only decent to think about the words before reacting emotionally and winning forum points by coming to the rescue of everyone with a wet piece of nonsense.



In terms of social communication (and other issues), autistics are inferior to 'NT's'.

Fact.



kraftiekortie
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18 Jul 2016, 5:51 pm

Yep....autistic people tend to be inferior to some NT's in that arena.

Then again.....there are some NT's who are inferior in this as well.

The key, for the autistic person, is to at least make an attempt to compensate for that inferiority through a superiority in other things.

Woodrow Wilson didn't learn to read until he was about nine years old. He was inferior in reading at that time---but he made up for it in other ways----enough for him to be the only President with a Doctorate.

Wilson's racial views---now that's another matter! They were absurd!



B19
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18 Jul 2016, 6:14 pm

I prefer it when differences of opinion are acknowledged by an "I disagree" rather than the "you are wrong" claim that often leads to unnecessary conflict here.