kaberett: Blue-and-red welly boots on muddy ground. (boots)
[personal profile] kaberett
[personal profile] rmc28 has, again, produced an excellent links round-up on how not to harass people.

One of the arguments that regularly rolls around, though I have my hopes that it won't in this particular instance, is BUT WHAT ABOUT AUTISM.

Hello: my name is Alex, I was diagnosed with autism last month at the age of 22-and-change, and I'll be your guide today.

What this means in practice is that I am an Adult Autism Diagnosis [NHS; The National Autistic Society]: I wasn't spotted during childhood, so didn't get any support at all when it comes to learning how to socialise "normally". (There's no particular reason it shouldn't have been picked up - except, you know, that I do extremely well in tests, was assigned female at birth, and am upper-middle-class, which clearly accounted for my social difficulties. Though given the choice, I'd probably rather anyone had noticed the abuse going on at home than the ASC.)

Here's some more context: one of my areas of expertise, about which I will talk enthusiastically and at great length, is sexual health, safer sex, and sex in general.

AND YET SOMEHOW: I have managed not to sexually harass people. On the other hand, I have been regularly harassed and assaulted throughout my life, including one occasion on which a Guest of Honour was a little more handsy than I was entirely comfortable with, without actually making me scared or upset forever.

In that respect? I'm lucky.

But I'm going to repeat that: without any teaching, without any support, I manage to avoid harassing people. My social skills aren't fantastic, but I've taught myself (and been taught by the magic of the Internet) how to minimise any discomfort I might cause others. Here are some of them; I'm not perfect at doing all of them all the time, but I make a significant effort to build all of them into daily life:
  • I regularly check in verbally about how much I'm talking, and if it's "too much".
  • I make clear to people when striking up group conversations that I struggle with maintaining an appropriate volume, and I am always, always okay with being asked to speak more quietly.
  • Before raising potentially Difficult subjects, I explicitly ask "is it okay to talk about [topic x]?" If I don't get enthusiastic consent from everyone in the conversation, I drop it.
  • I always explicitly check before offering physical contact: "Do you do hugs? In that case, would you like one?"


In conclusion, because it seems to need repeating a lot: autism spectrum conditions are not a reason for harassment, they are not an excuse for harassment, and Internet-diagnosing unfamiliar-to-you highly socially competent predators makes life harder for everyone except predators.

Don't do it. Just don't.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-02-25 10:37 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Oh yeah. I have a sibling on the autism spectrum and several actually-diagnosed friends (as well as you). I get pissed off with internet-diagnosing like WHOA.

Well said, and thank you.

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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
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