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[personal profile] kaberett
This is something I have apparently spent a lot of time working on, just because it makes life easier. In a lot of ways it's a superset of other skills I've learned: sometimes more conscious - like when I deliberately switch into Posh White Lady mode - and sometimes it's completely automatic, like the way I codeswitch defensively (I tend to reflect the accent of whoever I'm talking to).

I chatted about this a few weeks ago with TOL - I'd sent an offer-culture-esque e-mail to the tune of "I'd still really like to see you but I know you've got a lot on your plate at the moment, so if e.g. x or y means you'd rather postpone that's fine", and she'd had to read it a couple of times to reassure herself that I wasn't trying to get her to cancel for me. We talked through ways to avoid hitting that particular miscommunication-in-potentia in future; I said I was happy to phrase such e-mails in whatever way worked best for her, because it was effort-neutral for me.

And then we clarified: it's actually that I'm already translating-to-allistic, and which variey-of-allistic I translate to ist mir egal; but not translating isn't any easier, because code-switching to "natural" speaking - with someone who doesn't ping me as autistic - is just as much effort as anything else.

And... that's the thing. There is such comfort in the ways that I can, with other autistic folk, frequently just... talk. Relax the monitoring and the double-checking against my learned scripts and just get on with it -- but so much of it is so automatic at this point that I don't notice I'm doing it until I'm... not. Which in turn makes it hard to pass on the skillset, because when the answer is "I have a checklist for how to handle a situation where someone has just received news of a bereavement and I follow it automatically" it can be... quite difficult even to expand what the checklist is, never mind help the other party absorb all the checklists for all the different possible situations to the extent that they come that automatically. (I have talked a little about how the intersection of autism + being an abuse survivor means I have very consciously learned to... interact in ways that look like "gaming people". It isn't actually that simple.)

I don't, I'm afraid, have any tidy conclusions; I just know that passing-for-allistic is at this stage something I do reflexively, except that when I'm triggered/exhausted/whatever I find it much, much harder to do the "basic" shit like reflecting the language and modes of communication other people are using with me, and I think that ties into being perceived as hostile/aggressive.

(In turn, I seriously need to work on the extent to which I freak out when people say that they're perceiving/experiencing me as same - I know why I freak, but it is a criticism I need to be able to hear. It's on the list for discussion with my counsellor next time I see them.)

I've watched people wince when I am Obviously Autistic In Public, because I'm exhausted or overwhelmed or whatever. And maybe that's actually the conclusion, I suppose: successfully passing for allistic takes energy, but is still less work than persuading people to interact with me in ways that are easier-for-me, at least for me, because of how long I've been learning this particular lesson. This is some of what I mean when I say I've "run out of people" or "am not fit for human company" - there's a bit of constructing-self-as-monster in there, on which topic I have a first draft of something that is approximately a prose poem - and some of why it hurts so much when I get told that I'm unfairly dictating modes of communication (through e.g. advocating active listening over formal debate in one-on-one informal interactions, to pick an actual example).

And on that note I shall sleep before I ramble more, I think.
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kaberett

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