A Brief Thought on My Selective Mutism

Yeah, yeah, another Aspergers from the Inside video; I know. What can I say? They open a structural discourse within myself, providing stimulating talking points.

As an adult Autist with selective mutism, sometimes I will shutdown and not be able to form words. Or, when asked what I’m feeling or why I’m in a certain mood, I become mute or otherwise incapable of coherent speech, or properly communicating that which I am asked to do.

However, many know how eloquently I am capable of speaking, and just how powerful my use of language and communication style can be.

One of the reasons I have always found solace in art and drumming is that I don’t have to put words to feelings. I don’t have to explain or define something unexplainable with no definition. I can just flow with it and let it purge itself as needed. I don’t have to waste precious energy on calculating the best, most accurate response to an inquiry, when the intensity of what I’m feeling requires all that energy for simply processing.

This is also why many of my dearest friends have been animals and trees. We communicate without words and that is so liberating, so much more real and accurate.

So much can be and is communicated through non-speech. That which is deepest and most meaningful could never be put into words.

The interactions I cherish the most are those where I am not expected to speak. If I can just be with someone and feel that natural connectivity—share our energy and thoughts without language—the connection feels pure and limitless… untainted and undefined by the restrictive relativism of language.

If I seem content to sit in silence with you, that is a good thing. I enjoy your presence, your energy. I enjoy simply being with you. It is a pure and wholesome exchange that is more real to me than speaking.

When society at large begins to appreciate the multitude of diverse methods of communication, we will see massive advancements in so many areas.

As Ramana Maharshi said, “Silence is also conversation. Silence is ever-speaking.”


High-Functioning Autism, as Defined by Aspergers from the Inside

I came across the following video on YouTube, posted in September 2019, by the channel Aspergers from the Inside. While I’m fully capable of performing my own research and formulating my own definitions based on said research, I also appreciate efficiency.

I would rather share my brief thoughts on this video now, as I tend to belay certain activities indefinitely, particularly when I hold myself and my creations to such high standards that I avoid creating altogether. (A constant setback, I assure you, but not always definite.)

First, I’ll mention there’s a lot of controversy around the term ‘high-functioning,’ but really… what isn’t surrounded by controversy today? Everything is being called into question, and much of which for good reason, but… I digress.

In short, there are some who consider the term to be dismissive of the struggles many of us on the Spectrum face in our daily lives, simply because we do not appear to be what society at large considers “disabled.” Like all things, the conversation goes far deeper than this simplified summary, and I invite you to look into it on your own, should curiosity spur you to do so.

So, how is ‘high-functioning’ defined in the video?

“What it literally means is, ‘I am functioning well at the moment and my struggles are invisible.’ High Functioning literally means, ‘invisible struggle.’ […] Whatever struggles I’m going through, you can’t see them.”

Paul Micallef, Aspergers from the Inside

What I appreciate most about this definition, is that it can be applied to any personal challenges, be they physical or otherwise, including depression, anxiety, addiction, brain injury, heart or lung issues, cognitive abilities, grief, and so on.

Therefore, it makes it so much easier to understand and so much more widely applicable and relatable, regardless of one’s neurological state. I imagine everyone can relate to this definition, as we are all struggling through something that is invisible to others—neurotypicals and atypicals alike and beyond.

That is a simple fact of existence. What we see in others and how we present ourselves, is merely the tip of the iceberg.

That being said, it’s important to understand most of what people think they know about the Autism Spectrum and its diverse proliferations in Autistic individuals, stems from outdated, incorrect, and highly prejudice and cruel experiments and methods of treatment conducted in the 1940s, which also completely denied the fact that females and people of colour could be on the Spectrum. (A major double-yew-tee-eff, I know. Believe it or not, we’re just now starting to unravel that mess.)

As awareness movements of all kinds, for all types of marginalised and oppressed groups of people, are coming to the forefront of human consciousness to be faced, healed, and purged from the collective, may we stand in solidarity with our human family, regardless of race, gender, creed, or mental/physical condition, and learn to better embrace our differences in celebration.

After all, we are far more alike in our differences than we tend to recognise or admit. We are, also, all in this together. Perhaps our togetherness is what we should be focusing on.


Reflections: “Are You Undiagnosed Autistic?”

Just starting out on this journey of Autism admission and awareness. Watching videos, listening to the stories of others, and pouring myself into research, as I am so wont to do.

The latest video I’ve watched by Aspergers from the Inside, “Are You Undiagnosed Autistic? How To Tell If You’re On The Autism Spectrum,” has me reflecting on a good deal. Wanted to share a fraction of those reflections.

It is important to gauge both internal and external factors.

In retrospect, sometimes my masking was on point and other times, when I thought I was “acting normal,” I was anything but.

I have had coworkers that have tried, in very passive-aggressive, subversive ways, to get me to admit to Autism and, on different occasions, Schizophrenia. Based on my own internal happenings, I was incapable of seeing what they saw, experiencing that oh-so-familiar frustration of being ostracised for reasons I didn’t understand. “Is there something so wrong with me that people think I’m disabled and mentally ill?” I would ask myself, “Or worse, a lying, lazy, impartial asshole?”

Yes, all of humanity, at one point or another, battles with ableist thinking. Regardless of what we ourselves may be afflicted with, it is so temptingly automatic to point the finger at someone else’s weirdness.

I once had an elderly lady with no nose single me out for something about my physical appearance she didn’t like. While this is a rather innocent example of someone projecting onto someone else the prejudice that has been projected onto them—rather than using their own experience of suffering to send out compassion to break that pattern of prejudice—far worse atrocities continue to propel through society, driving a wedge into the heart of humanity where there should be, could be, mending.

“Actually, it’s always been inside; you’ve just been repressing it the whole time. So, if you are that friends and family, it’s important to recognise that the person is trusting you, with showing you a side of themselves they’ve been hiding for most of their life.”

Paul Micallef, Aspergers from the Inside

Becoming aware of our ignorance is the first step to dissolving our ignorance.

If you suspect someone might be Autistic, please don’t be like my aforementioned coworkers. Do your research and feel free to share your findings with others, but put compassion first. The person you suspect to have some condition is already feeling the world against them. That does not need to be magnified.

Just love and accept people for who they are, knowing you have no idea what their internal landscape is like. Extend compassion and understanding to everyone, and accept that all you need to know is that other people are beautiful and unique in ways you may never see. All you need to know is other people are worthy of kindness and respect.

To summon the Vulcan motto I repeat so often, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.”

We have reached a point in our collective consciousness where we have the capability to make this world liveable and loveable for everyone.

In the immortal words of Captain Picard, let’s “make it so.

May you Live Long and Prospurr.