Nancy MacLean: It’s a Libertarian Conspiracy!

About a month ago, I wrote a piece in which I discussed comments made by Nancy MacLean about autistics lacking empathy. To say that post blew up is an understatement. It was picked up by Reason Magazine and spread across the internet, through Reason‘s link to my post was dropped by most other outlets. I further discussed¬† the fact that intellectuals like her tend to be anti-autistic, and I discussed some further discussions of MacLean’s comments. But although I had read that she had apologized via email to a few people, I had not heard anything from MacLean herself about the controversy. Until now.

C-SPAN did an interview with Nancy MacLean March 11 in which the interviewer asks her about the autism controversy. The question occurs at the 20:26 mark.

INTERVIEWER: NOW, LAST MONTH THE HEADLINE CAME OUT THAT SAYS “DUKE PROFESSOR SAYS ARCHITECTS OF MODERN LIBERTARIANISM SEEM TO BE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM.” IS THAT A…IS THAT A FAIR QUOTE

MACLEAN: THAT QUOTE WAS … AND I REGRET THAT I SAID THAT. IT WAS ASKED AT THE END OF A LONG EVENING. IT WAS AT THE 100 MINUTE MARK OF A SPEECH THAT I GAVE AT A LIBERTARIAN CHURCH, AN INVITED SPEECH. AND IT WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO¬† HAD LISTENED TO MY WHOLE TALK. HE UNDERSTOOD THE POLITICS, HE UNDERSTOOD THE IDEOLOGY, BUT HE COULDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE, THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS IN PARTICULAR, JAMES BUCHANAN AND CHARLES KOCH, WOULD DO WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS. HOW THEY COULD BE SO UNFEELING AND HOW THEY COULD NOT SEE THAT THESE MEN ARE BRINGING INTO BEING A SOCIETY THAT’S UTTERLY UNSUSTAINABLE. SO, IN TRYING TO GET TO THE DEPTH OF THE QUESTION HE ASKED — I MENTIONED, AND ACTUALLY THERE WERE THREE FIGURES, ONE WHO IS AT GEORGE MASON, TYLER COWAN, HAS SAID HE WAS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM, CHARLES KOCH AND JAMES BUCHANAN, ONE COULD HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT, BUT I SAID IT’S PURE SPECULATION. BUT NOW HERE IS A POINT WHERE YOU SEE HOW THIS NETWORK WORKS. BECAUSE TWO GEORGE MASON PROFESSORS, EITHER THEY WATCH EVERY APPEARANCE I DO OR THEY HAVE UNDERLINGS WHO DO, SO THEY WATCHED TO MINUTE 100 AND THEN THEY STARTED TWEETING THIS OUT TO PEOPLE WHO HAD AUTISM ORGANIZATIONS, TRYING TO WEAPONIZE THEIR PAIN, AND TURN THE PAIN OF THOSE PEOPLE AGAINST ME AS AUTHOR. AND I ACTUALLY, ON PAGE 232 OF MY BOOK, TALK ABOUT HOW THEY GLOAT, THEY TALK ABOUT UPPING THE TRANSACTION COSTS OF DISSENT FOR THE OTHER SIDE, UPPING THE TRANSACTIONS COSTS FOR THE OTHER SIDE. SO THEY WEAPONIZE THE PAIN OF AUTISM SUFFERS AGAINST ME. AND I APOLOGIZE. I HAVE SINCE LEARNED ABOUT AUTISM. AUTISM SUFFERS I HAVE LEARNED DO HAVE EMPATHY, DO FEEL COMPASSION, MAY NOT BE ABLE TO EXPRESS IT AS WELL. I STAND BY WHAT I SAID ABOUT THESE LIBERTARIAN ARCHITECTS OF THE STEALTH CAUSE. BUT WHAT WAS SO GROTESQUE IS THAT WITHIN 48 HOURS, AGITATED FOLKS WITH AUTISM, SENT THEIR GROUP CAMPUS REFORM AGAINST ME. AGITATED OTHER PEOPLE, TRIED TO GET ME FIRED, TRIED TO GET ME PUNISHED. THIS IS THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE GALL TO TALK ABOUT FREE SPEECH IN OUR SOCIETY. THEY ARE GIVING OUT CAMERAS TO YOUNG PEOPLE ON CAMPUSES TO TAPE THEIR PROFESSORS. AND THOSE STUDENTS ARE BEING TRAINED BY JAMES O’KEEFE WHO IS THE PERSON WHO TRIED TO ATTRACT THE WASHINGTON POST, DESTROYED THE CAREER OF A WONDERFUL CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS NAMED SHIRLEY SHERROD WHO WORKED FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, WITH UTTERLY DISHONEST EDITING. AND CHARLES KOCH-FUNDED ORGANIZATIONS ARE BRINGING SOMEONE LIKE THAT TO TRAIN OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ON CAMPUSES ON HOW TO ATTACK THEIR FACULTY. I WAS JUST SPEAKING IN FLAGSTAFF, AT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY WHERE STUDENTS FROM THAT ORGANIZATION, CAMPUS REFORM, TRAINED BY A KOCH-FUNDED ORGANIZATIONS HAD CREATED THROUGH THEIR DISHONESTY AND MISREPRESENTATION OF THE SITUATION, A DEPARTMENT CHAIR OF THAT UNIVERSITY RECEIVED MULTIPLE DEATH THREATS. IT ALL CAN BE DOCUMENTED. IT’S…FRANKLY IT’S DISCUSSING WHAT THE CHARLES KOCH FOUNDATION AND THE OTHER ORGANIZATION THAT THAT MAN FUNDS IS DOING TO OUR HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THEIR, AGAIN I WILL SAY IT, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT, THE MESSIANIC DETERMINATION TO TRANSFORM OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM WITHOUT BEING HONEST WITH THE PEOPLE OF WHAT THE TRUE SOCIETY IS THAT THEY AIM TO GET TO. SORRY, THAT PUSHED A BUTTON, BECAUSE I HAD TO SPEND MANY, MANY, MANY HOURS ANSWERING HATE MAIL AND ANSWERING MAIL FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE UPSET. AND WHEN I APOLOGIZED TO THE AUTISM SUFFERERS, I RECEIVED BEAUTIFUL MAIL BACK. ALL THEY WANTED WAS THAT RECOGNITION. BUT THOSE PEOPLE ON THE PAYROLL OF THE KOCH NETWORK UNDERSTOOD THAT THEY WERE ACTIVELY WEAPONIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S PAIN IN ORDER TO HARASS SOMEONE WHO IS A PROBLEM FOR THEIR CAUSE. IF WERE ONLY ME, I WOULDN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT, BUT IT’S A CONSCIOUS STRATEGY THEY’RE DOING TO PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY. AND IT IS BENEATH CONTEMPT.

To keep things in context, she gave her talk in which she made the anti-autism comments on Feb. 7, and I posted about it Feb. 10. Now, I cannot speak as to what may or may not have happened on Twitter prior to my post, but I only learned about the talk Feb. 9, when it was posted on Facebook by a Facebook friend. After watching it, I made my post. And yes, I did then engage in a Twitter campaign that did include many autism organizations, because I believe that as many people as possible needed to know such a high-profile person as Nancy MacLean was saying what she was saying about autism. But my Twitter campaign doesn’t at all resemble what she claims happened.

The first mention of Nancy MacLean’s talk in the libertarian mainstream media was, as far as I have been able to discover, the piece in Reason Magazine that cited my blog post. The same day the Reason post came up, I received an email asking for an interview, which I was happy to grant. That interview came out in PJMedia several days later. The majority of outlets criticizing what MacLean said seem to be primarily based on the Reason piece, but fail to cite my blog.

The bottom line, though, is this: Nancy MacLean says she apologizes to the autistic community, but she buries that apology in a strange conspiracy theory in which she blames the Koch Foundation, or some sort of Koch network, for having the audacity to point out that she was being an ableist bigot! Don’t get me wrong, there’s no question they pointed out her bigotry precisely because it benefited them to do so. Of course they did. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t say what she said, and it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have been roundly criticized for what she said. And whatever others’ motives may have been in pointing it out, she was still wrong in what she said–both factually and morally.

Further, while MacLean doesn’t mention me at all, since it seems that I was Reason‘s primary source it would then follow that it would seem she would think I’m part of this Koch-funded network. This would be a great surprise to both me and my bank account! For her, it seems to be outside the realm of possibility for an informal, decentralized network without anyone funding anything to discover her talk and for me to randomly see someone’s sharing of the talk, watch it myself, come to my own conclusions, and decide entirely on my own to write about it on my autism blog as an example of the kind of ignorant bigotry we on the spectrum have to face.

As far as I’m concerned, if she did learn anything about autism–she says she has since learned we do have empathy, and I’ll take her word that she now understands that–she did not learn quite enough about us. We are not “sufferers” of autism–other than suffering from having to live in a society controlled primarily by people exactly like her. In that respect, we do suffer quite a bit–we suffer discrimination, we suffer unemployment, we suffer from the spread of misinformation and ignorance about us. We aren’t in pain, we are not suffering. We simply want to be accepted for who we are–and the language MacLean continues to use against us is the language of rejection, the language of mere pity, the language of a refusal to truly accept our humanity.

MacLean doesn’t actually take responsibility for what she says in this interview. She says she apologizes, but she spends most of her time blaming some “Koch Network” that would have to include me in order to exist and which, therefore, does not exist. The problem, according to what she says in this interview, isn’t with what she said, but with the fact that the villains of her book have had the audacity to point out that what she said was wrong. I have to wonder if she would think that those on the Left who accuse anyone and everyone they disagree with of being racists, sexists, and homophobes are weaponizing other people’s pain and therefore are beneath contempt. I somehow doubt she would be willing to extend those principles to those she supports.

Finally, although she says she reads Reason, and although if she read Reason she would know I played a significant part in outing her for her comments, she makes no mention of me. Why? It’s simple: I don’t fit in with her theory.

Oh, and while she did email an apology to the Duke Chronicle, that apology completely misses the point of my complaint. So, I’m still waiting for a proper apology from her. You know, one where she doesn’t blame others–or the lateness of the hour–for a comment that she had very obviously thought through (because if, as she said in the initial comments, she had chosen, for some reason, NOT to put it in the book, that means she had thought about putting it in the book).

I’m still waiting, Nancy MacLean. I’m still waiting.

The Struggle With the Daemon

I recently finished reading The Struggle with the Daemon: Holderlin, Kleist, Nietzsche by Stefan Zweig. For someone on the spectrum who is himself a literary writer (or, at least, I try to be), this book very much felt like it ought to have been titled The Struggle with Autism, especially as each of the three artists’ sections felt like an aspect of my personality was being emphasized–albeit, much more intense versions of me (I’ve managed to avoid descending into a final state of insanity, and I’ve never felt suicidal–though it’s my understanding that the last is an all-too common feeling among autistics).

Holderlin would seem the hardest case to make among the three, except many of his feelings as described by Zweig seem my feelings as well. Getting caught up in an obsession, and feeling like the rest of the world is a terrible imposition on your work is a very autistic way of being in the world–at least, from my experience.

Kleist, on the other hand, just screamed “autism” from Kleist’s description. For one, Kleist wandered all over Europe, and autistics are known to be avid wanderers (which can be a major problem when the wanderer is a child). “He was reserved to excess, and kept everything locked up within himself. He did not express his passions either in looks or in spoken words” (158). Zweig says

he remained mute, not from dumbness or sloth, but from overpowering chastity of feeling; and this silence, this dull, brutalising, oppressive silence, which he would maintain for hours when in company, was his most salient characteristic–that and absence of mind, a confusion which obscured his clarity of intellect. When talking, he would suddenly break off and stare into vacancy (158)

He could not converse unconstrainedly in an exchange of the small talk of ordinary life. Convention and customary obligations were repugnant to him, so that many assumed there must be something “dour and sinister” in this unusual companion; while others were wounded by his harshness and cynicism and bluntness when, as happened now and then, pricked by his own silence, he threw of all constraints. (159)

“Those who did not know him intimately believed him cold and indifferent. His intimates, on the other hand, were afraid of the fires that consumed him” (160).

If you’re autistic, perhaps especially if you have Asperger’s, this may sound quite familiar to you. If you know someone with Asperger’s, this also may sound familiar to you. Zweig’s description of Kleist throughout the book only reinforce my original conclusion (based on the above quotes) that Kleist had Asperger’s.

I have already written about my belief that Nietzsche had autism, and Zweig’s description only confirmed my beliefs. However, there is something quite interesting that Zweig pointed out that sounded quite personally familiar–and I would be interested if my autistic readers have had the same experience.

What makes Nietzsche’s transformations so peculiar is that they seem retrogressive. If we take Goethe as the prototype of an organic nature in harmony with the forward march of the universe, we perceive that his development is symbolical of the various stages of life. in youth he was fiery and enthusiastic; as a man in his prime he was actively reflective; age brought him the utmost lucidity of mind. His mental rhythm corresponded in every point with the temperature of his blood. As with most young men, he began in chaos and ended his career in orderly fashion, as is seemly with the old. After going through a revolutionary period he turned conservative, after a phase of lyricism he became a man of science, after being prodigal of himself he learnt how to be reserved.

Nietzsche took an opposite course. Instead of aspiring to an ever more complete integration of his ego, he desired complete disintegration. As he advanced in years he became increasingly impatient, vehement, revolutionary, and chaotic. His outward aspect was in strident opposition of the customary evolution of a man. While his university companions were still delighting in the usual horseplay of undergraduates, Nietzsche, though but twenty-four years old, was already a professor, aspirant to the chair of philology at Basel, that famous seat of learning. At twenty-four, Nietzsche’s intimates were men of fifty and sixty years of age, sages such as Jakob Burckhardt and Ritschl, while his closest friend was the most celebrated artist of the day–Richard Wagner. (288-289)

Zweig goes on and on about the staid, scholarly Nietzsche, then notes that when he was thirty, he resigned from his position with a pension, went to live alone in Switzerland and northern Italy, and transformed himself into the writer of Zarathustra–a transformation that ended with Nietzsche’s loss of sanity. His life is the reverse of Goethe’s.

Now let me give a brief of my own life. In grade school, I wore dress slacks and button-down shirts. In high school, I started wearing jeans, but they were dress jeans. I went to college to major in recombinant gene technology, then attended graduate school in molecular biology. During grad school, I started wearing t-shirts and listening to contemporary rock (alternative music–I started in with the grunge scene with Nirvana’s In Utero, when I was around 22). It was around this time that I started reading Nietzsche, and I also started writing more fiction and poetry, and myself growing more and more chaotic.

I dropped out of grad school, had two massive anxiety attacks, started writing Hear the Screams of the Butterfly to deal with all of my emotional issues, and also took a year of undergrad English classes to get into a graduate program in Creative Writing. While there I was quite bohemian in my lifestyle. If there was a reversal, it was when I started my Ph.D. program in the humanities, where I started off doing creative writing, but ended up with a scholarly dissertation. After graduating, I met my future wife, got married, had three children, and have lived the past decade wasting my scholarly and writing talents in looking for gainful employment. I’ve also grown more radical in my politics, and I think more daring in my art.

Now, do not get me wrong. I would trade nothing for my wife and children. In that I’m a happy Goethe, so to speak. However, an inability to go “full Goethe” in the sense of his life development, has meant considerable employment difficulties. At the same time, I have been fortunate in also not going “full Holderlin/Kleist/Nietzsche” either. I’m instead in an uncomfortable truce, neither giving in to my obsessions nor being able to live a “normal” life.

The scientist I was in college became the artist became the artist and interdisciplinary scholar–became more and more interdisciplinary, unspecialized, going in the opposite direction of most people. I’ve grown less conservative over time, less satisfied with life, more radical. That is, from order to chaos. Nietzsche is a model for my own changes, though I certainly had no intention to follow that model–it just seems a natural development. Yet, I struggle against that development, and thus (mostly) keep it under control. The forces of order and the forces of chaos are always in a constant struggle within me. I continue to alternate between art and scholarship. If anything, my family is what keeps the struggle just barely on the side of order.

Habitat

Sunday after church there was a meal in honor of a member who was leaving. Apparently, Daniel (who actually likes church) had had enough, and declared, “I want to go back to my habitat.”

On Being an Autistic Writer

I was recently contacted through Facebook Messenger by a woman who said she was recently diagnosed with mild autism and recognized that she was a pattern thinker, leading her to discover my post on pattern thinking. She said she was a writer, and she asked me about my writing process and how I integrated pattern thinking into it.

There are a number of ways I integrate pattern thinking into my writing. I suppose an obvious way is in the use of patterns in the writing of my poetry. I tend to use regular rhythm, repetitions of words and sounds, including end-rhyme. Even before I started writing in more formal verse, I was always attracted to the repetition of sounds in alliteration. I probably have a bit more of a tendency to use alliteration in my prose, particularly my creative prose, than in my poetry, since I can use other forms of repetition in poetry than alliteration. Also in my prose I have a tendency to be more repetitious with word choices–which allows for the thematic development of those words’ meanings. Finally, there are lists. I do love lists. Those of course are the creation of an ordered pattern as well. My fiction is full of lists–sometimes rather explicit lists, but also in the listing of things, features, etc., particularly in parallel structure.

With my poetry, it did take me a while to develop the ability to write in regular rhythm–most notably, iambic pentameter–before it became so ingrained that it is now second nature to write in it. I almost don’t have to count the syllables or check the rhythm anymore. Once that pattern became internalized, I was able to allow the words to flow in a more natural way. With poetry, then, I write when inspired. It flows out of me as though the Muses are speaking through me. I completely understand why the ancients believed the poets were vessels of the gods, the gods speaking through them in poetic lines.

However, my plays (mostly in verse), short stories, novel manuscripts, and nonfiction work, are a product of a very different method.

For all my writing, I get my ideas through a combination of reading 3-5 books at a time (so the ideas can chaotically crash into each other), watching and listening to people, the news, T.V. shows and movies,–pretty much, everything in life. I try to remain open to the odd syntheses of ideas emerging from a variety of places. Patterns among these different sources speak to me and inspire. To the extent this is unconscious, poems emerge. To the extend that I’m writing things down and taking notes, I get plays, fiction, etc.

Often I’ll get a vague notion, and write it down. That can germinate new ideas around it, leading to a plethora of notes. If it’s fiction, of course, those notes are internally generated; if it’s non-fiction, I’ll fill pages and pages of notes from things I’ll be reading on the topic in question. All notes are written by hand, the hand seeming to have a more direct connection to the way my memories form. (And the Muses are the children of Zeus/God and Memory/Memneke.)

The notes are not ordered, are not organized. They are jotted down as they come to me, as they flow out of me, as I read things that I intend to read as research, as I read other things I never realized might matter. Out of this chaos of notes and fragments (sometimes multi-page fragments), will emerge coherent stories and essays, plays and books. My bottom-up thinking results in a bottom-up process–out of chaos emerges order. I write once the notes have reached a critical point of unconscious organization, and I need to pour out what I’ve filled myself with and mixed well in my mind.

So, that’s my writing process. From the outside I am sure it looks like a random mess out of which nothing could possibly emerge. But I’ve written a great many works–essays, plays, short stories, a novella, and a non-fiction book–this way. As for the blog, well, most of the time I’m inspired by something I’ve read or heard someone say or, in this case, someone asked.

A Variety of Genetic Pathways to Intense World Autism

Recent research into the gender bias of autism (4:1 in favor of males), has shown there are sets of genes that are expressed more by males than females which express certain sets of autism genes. In this research it was found that

Many of the shared genes in these sets are related to microglia, immune cells in the brain that trim away excess neuronal connections, or synapses, in the developing brain and that may be dysfunctional in people with autism. One of the sets also contains genes related to star-shaped cells called astrocytes, which may be involved in learning and memory; these cells are thought to be both smaller and denser in autism brains than in controls.

Failure to trim away extra neurons is a recurring theme when it comes to autism.

If microglia cannot work properly, we would expect less synaptic trimming to take place. Which means a hyper-connected/hyper-active network.

Astrocytes are involved in clearing away neurotransmitters, and if they cannot work properly, we would expect buildup of certain neuotransmitters. Surely some of those neurotransmitters would be glutamate, which acts as a positive feedback neurotransmitter. Which means a hyper-active network.

Genes involved in the glutamate-glutamine-GABA cycle would contribute to imbalances in these neurotransmitters. Imbalances in favor of glutamate would result in a hyper-active network.

Genes involved in serotonin production can affect synaptic trimming, since serotonin is needed to trim synapses. Low serotonin would result in less trimming, meaning a hyper-connected/hyper-active network.

Vitamin D is involved in serotonin production, and vitamin D deficiency has been connected to autism:

vitamin D hormone activates the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), that converts the essential amino acid tryptophan, to serotonin in the brain. This suggests that adequate levels of vitamin D may be required to produce serotonin in the brain where it shapes the structure and wiring of the brain, acts as a neurotransmitter, and affects social behavior. They also found evidence that the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) is inhibited by vitamin D hormone, which subsequently halts the production of serotonin in the gut and other tissues, where when found in excess it promotes inflammation.

As noted before, vitamin D absorption is affected by glutamine/glutamate levels.

In other words, mutations affecting microglia, macroglia, glutamate-glutamine-GABA production, serotonin production, and vitamin D levels can all have pretty much the same effect in having hyper-connected/hyper-active neurons. Those are a large number of causes resulting in essentially the same effect.

The Freedom To Do and Be

Wednesday night I attended a talk at Southern Methodist University by Deirdre McCloskey, an economist at the University of Chicago. She is the author of a series of books–The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity, and Bourgeois Equality–in which she argues that economists have misunderstood the driving force of economic growth and widespread wealth. It’s not savings, and it’s not capital investment–rather, it’s ideas. And it’s a specific set of ideas: treating people equally, equality under the law, and respect for people who engage in business. She argued last night that when people are given the freedom to do what they want to do and be who they want to be, that freedom results in the creation of wealth.

This made me wonder how much wealth the world has lost because autistics are not allowed to do what they want to do, and to be who they are.

 

Imposing On Me All the Time!

A common “personality trait” of people on the spectrum is the feeling that many things are a terrible imposition on them. I certainly feel that all the time.

I feel like having to deal with other people driving on the road at the same time as me is a terrible imposition on me. They are all in my way, they are all driving too slow or taking off from the red light too slow, or driving like an idiot because they are on their cell phones (you’re not that important, people!), etc. I hate everyone in a vehicle on the road at the same time as me. Every road trip of even the shortest length makes me full of anxiety.

Having to do anything at all that is not exactly what I want to do at that given time always feels like a terrible imposition on me. I feel like I ought to be able to work on what I want to work on and that I ought to be able to make a living at it. I feel like there should be no barriers to entry for anything I want to try to do. I feel like I should not be made to work at jobs that are not completely interesting to me. I feel like when I am working that everyone ought to leave me alone to let me do my work. I feel like all bureaucrats ought to be fired because their only job is to annoy and harass people who have actual work to do. All of these things feel like a terrible imposition on me.

I suppose much of this comes about from a combination of things, such as my need to work/focus on my obsessions as well as a need for order and things to change more slowly than they typically do.

Also, I suppose this is related to my need for any and all expectations to be met. If I am told that something is going to happen (or not going to happen), and my expectations are not fulfilled, I feel as though I’m being imposed upon. And it’s not just big things.

Here’s a small example that I know logically doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but which mattered a great deal to me anyway. My wife declared early one morning that we were all going to spend all day Saturday watching movies, TV, or otherwise just relaxing at home. Come 6 p.m. or so, my wife says she’s going to Walmart. First, she’s only taking Daniel. Then she suggests we all go. Naturally, the kids are all for it. But I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go because and only because she had said earlier in the day that we wouldn’t be going anywhere all day long. Had she said nothing of the sort, I would have almost certainly agreed for us all to go. I knew that, but knowing that could not overcome the way I felt. Going felt like an imposition on me. And so Melina and I stayed home and Anna took Daniel and Dylan.

A bigger thing involved my attempting to get alternative certification one Summer in order to get a job in a public school that Fall. The idea of teaching itself doesn’t feel like an imposition. But being forced to get teacher certification when I have a Ph.D. does, and having to deal with all of the administrators when I am hired somewhere most certainly does. If I knew that everyone would just leave me alone to do my job, I’d be extremely happy, and I’d do my job, and do it well. But the very existence of administrators in the world causes me anxiety and they all feel like an imposition on me and my doing my job well.

So what wouldn’t feel like an imposition?

Having expectations met. Having people always follow through on everything they say. Now, when I say “always,” that doesn’t mean things cannot come up that people can’t help. That happens. I’m talking about the casual way most people don’t actually mean to follow through on their small commitments they make throughout the day. When I tell you I’ll do something, you can guarantee I’ll do it. Unless, of course, I just plain forget. Which is, as anyone who knows someone with autism knows, a distinct possibility.

Another thing would be to be allowed to work on my obsessions. In my ideal world, at least, that would mean being allowed to work on my poems, plays, short stories, novels, and scholarly work. And having someone who would send all of those things out for me. In my less-than-ideal-but-still-pretty-good world, that would mean a job doing creative work of some sort, being constantly mentally challenged in a job where creativity and innovation are what matter more than anything else in the world. Or proofreading. I love proofreading. I can just sit and do that for hours.

I can’t speak for anyone else in the specifics, but I would be willing to bet that the first sentence of each of the two paragraphs above are true for everyone on the spectrum.

It’s probably impossible for someone on the spectrum to go through the day without feeling that something is an imposition. So long as there are people disappointing our expectations, we’ll feel it. So long as I have to drive on roads with other drivers, I’ll feel it. I can think about it, stand outside myself and write about it, as I am now, but it seems impossible for me to not feel it. So when I’m annoyed and sighing and rolling my eyes, it’s because I’m feeling imposed upon. Trust me, if I could help it, I would do away with it in a heartbeat.