I went to another autastics meeting yesterday in daly city. I liked it even better than the first one. It was a little easier to talk this time. Like last time, everybody was very nice. It still blows me away that there are so many people that are SO MUCH like me. For so long I thought there were none and that i was the biggest freak in the whole world. Suddenly, I am an aspie, crazily similar in so many ways to other aspie/autistic people, yet at the same time, we are as different from each other as all people are from each other.
The thing about the autastics meetings, is that there is a whole bunch of autistic people trying (and succeeding) to socialize and communicate. It is very different from socializing with other people. Of course, this whole story is a giant generalization, which I am sure isn’t true of all autistic people, but it is what I think based on the few meetings i’ve been to and other folks that I’ve met in the past 6 months. If you are one of the people I am generalizing about, and I have this all wrong, please let me know!
At the meeting, I watch the others try to communicate, think, speak. A few are quite good at this, but most (including me) struggle with it. I hear their voices trying to get the words out, taking pauses in between words or phrases in an attempt to get the next thought out. I see people go from seemingly “normal” to stereotypical autistic (or vice versa) in the blink of an eye. I can practically see them thinking; working so hard to take a thought, remember it, stay focused on it, and maybe hardest of all, say it out loud. I know that for some, the effort is so great that the next sentence is lost or trapped inside, and will never make it out into the room. It is like that for me sometimes. I am often lost in a group setting. It is very hard to follow conversations. I can’t hear fast enough to process things before they move on, and usually end up in my own world, away from the chaos.
The amazing thing is that it is okay to be like that at the meeting. No one is going to think you’re retarded or stupid or generally unfriendly. People understand why it is so hard, and why it might take more time to speak and respond. People understand why you may not respond at all. They know that it has nothing at all to do with how intelligent or friendly you are. When people finally do say something, it seems true and honest and direct; the thing that they are thinking about at the moment.
There is very little “small talk”. I find this refreshing. I have never really understood small talk or been very good at it. It is something I try to learn and practice because I can see that it is how people start conversations and break the ice, but sometimes it just seems like a bunch of bullshit. With the exception of K and other meteorology geeks, do people really care that much about the weather?
I am thankful to Adam and the other people who have kept this group going for the past 10 years. I don’t know if I will ever get over the amazement of finding other people who are so much like me. There is a part of me that has been completely alone for my whole life. It is not anymore.
7 thoughts on “Autastics”
Actually I don’t think you are generalizing at all. You are speaking about your personal experience of things and how you see the world of autism/asperger’s. You describe what it’s like to be with other aspies so well and so vividly that it’s easy for us non-aspies to “get”, at least to an extent, what it is like to be in the room. It’s so great that you pushed yourself, like the other group members, to be there and keep trying to connect and communicate because just doing that, kind of like you are saying, builds community in and of itself. 🙂
Thanks for the report. I contemplated going but I hate driving and I hate being somewhere at a specific time and I hate going to a meeting with no agenda. In spite of all that, I did want to go. Maybe I can work up the motivation next time.
If you come to a meeting, you’re guaranteed not to be the only one there to hate driving, being somewhere at a specific time, and/or going to a meeting with no agenda. We also have someone in your area that sometimes comes to some of the meetings, so one of these days it might be possible for you to share a ride, knocking out 1 of the 3 above problems. You can usually find out when the next meeting is here. If you’d like, you could introduce yourself here.
I’ve missed the meetings you’ve attended. This last one I missed because Paul N (another Autastic) and I were hiking in the Sierra, where after a day of lightning, rain and hail we awoke in the night to find ourselves covered in snow. Good preparation for Paul’s attempt at a solo trans-Sierra ski expedition this winter!
I enjoyed your comments and hope to see you at another Autastics meeting soon.
It’s hard for me to go so far too. Maybe someday there will be a meeting in the east bay, or maybe some of us east bay folks can travel together to daly city.
There is a ‘meetups’ forum on this site that is for arranging local east bay meetups. Perhaps the first meetup could be to travel to an autastics meeting in daly city… I suppose that kind of kills the idea of local, but it would be worth the trip 🙂
Thanks for your post, it was very interesting. I have AS and have considered going to this group, but I live in Walnut Creek and it is hard for me to go such a long distance.
I would like to have a contact # for autastics group.
I understand that they have a group for teens. My 16 yr old son would really appreciate it.