I owe this week blog topic yet again to my online friend the ever-amazing NeuroRebel. It came out of a Twitter discussion with other #ActuallyAutistic.
So what myth are we busting today?
ALL #ActuallyAutistic are INTROVERTS!
As a deeply introverted NT (I think…nothing normal about this girl), this one is close to my heart. I found myself time and time again wanting to chime into the conversation for the #ActuallyAutistic with the words…
Of course, I did not. For my experience of introversion is not theirs. But I did share a bit about PanKwake’s. I chimed in with the fact that PanKwake’s need to be doing things and around other people is exhausting…for me anyway.
The past two weeks it has been non-stop go…do…PEOPLE!
Gymnastics…playgroup…bushcraft…playdates with friends…swimming/climbing…and sports.
To the point I am the one that is PEOPLED out…and wrote a blog to prove it.
But no sooner had I chimed in with that than PanKwake decides…ENOUGH. This week has been the exact opposite. We have not left the house. Though we have had her besties over twice as usual. It has been amazing…wonderful…restorative even.
Even then, I caught myself asking several times…are you sure you don’t want to go to…
I had gotten so used to her extroversion that I worried she would be unhappy or worse yet…BORED. But she has not been.
In addition to her friends coming over, she has spent a good deal of time playing games on video chat with another friend.
All of this has led me as PanKwake’s beautiful brain and spirit so often does to…more questions than answers…
Introversion/extroversion is a spectrum. Few of us are strictly one or the other. We lie somewhere in the middle…needing a balance of both. As PanKwake’s seclusion this week has shown me.
But beyond that I wonder…
How much of the ‘lonely’ ‘awkward’ autistic myth is the result of a personality preference? And how much is it more a reflection of past experiences with people? I mean if you spend twelve years or more of your life bullied at schools by ‘friends’, once you actually have a choice, can control your own life, do you really want to give other people a chance to get close to you? Or is it simply safer to keep to yourself?
And what about…virtual reality…online friends? Like I said, even this week, PanKwake has spent several hours in video chat with her friends. How we view ‘friendship’ is being revolutionized by computers, technology, things like FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and I am certain I am missing many more.
I know that I have several friends who I have never…and may never…meet face-to-face. What’s more, having moved to a foreign country a decade ago, as well as my recent move to another place has taught me the value of social media for staying touch with friends and family.
Much has been tauted about computer being a great equalizer when it comes to socialization and friendship with the #ActuallyAutistic. Without the need to read faces or body language, perhaps they are advantaged in the more direct and straight forward language of the internet?
Of course, as a society, we are still transitioning. Much of our mores remain rooted in the 20th century (some even in the 19th). Our technological advances has outpaced society’s capacity to adjust and change. As a result we are divided along generational lines too often. But that too is changing.
Like I said…this topic…this week…my beloved PanKwake have left me with more questions than answers. But what I do know is…
NOT ALL #ActuallyAutistic are introverted.
In fact, not just PanKwake, but other young #neurodivergent young people in our home ed group have demonstrated that when they are in environments where they are SAFE and SUPPORTED, some are actually very much ‘people’ persons.
After all, humans are pack animals. Perhaps it is just a matter of finding your pack or tribe. And the online #hashtag #ActuallyAutistic has done just that for many #neurodivergent people.
For more thoughts on this topic, check out NeuroRebel’s vlog on Self-Care & Downtime.