Mark Lawn: When one absorbs the information to fully accept that one is autistic, you can give yourself permission to look back and notice that, you forgive yourself because you give yourself a label of autism so you kind of realize that maybe, when you look back, what I found that, that was perhaps the reason of some situations that , by giving the label of autism, it justifies some of the small situations that, you realize that were quite large, when you realize that it’s because one’s autistic, like, the simple thing is I can see, I’ve fallen out with a few people, and when I look back, because I was frustrated with them not understanding me I think, and that built up from autism, that’s what caused the frustration which they would not have appreciated, like a shutter in a camera, it’s over, and final, and it kind of gives it closure by knowing that one is autistic, that’s why friendship was just terminated.
Jasun: It’s like round pegs in square holes, a little bit. Although it’s a spectrum, so it’s not necessarily either/or, like somebody’s autistic or somebody isn’t; but the more autistic that we are, the more different our perception of what’s going on is, the harder it is to actually adapt our behavior to fit with other people. So without realizing that, the only sense is kind of of something, like an inadequacy. I always had a feeling of inadequacy, that somehow I wasn’t able to be like other people expected me to be, so it was a kind of a negative, you know, like something was missing. So then the label of autism, although I think it’s limited, and limiting, like any label, it’s helpful because it turns a negative into a positive. It’s not that I wasn’t like, that I didn’t have something that other people had, it’s that I had something different. That’s basically it. We’re just different. So we’re not actually able to behave the way people expect us to behave, or perceive things the way that they perceive them, because we don’t. We perceive things differently.
Mark: Can you have, I have this experience of people that know what they are going to say before they say it. Can that be, can one be autistic and be calculated, almost like a cover-up.
Jasun: Cover-up—does that meaning learning to—
Mark: There’s techniques, I think there’s techniques to do. I remember you explained once that if you ask lots of questions, that’s a good way of covering up autism, because you just ask questions, exasperating the conversation. I find the hardest thing is, I have a few friends that are similar, I wouldn’t say you were, but say someone asks me a question, they kind of want a direct answer, my brain just can’t. I can do the body language, maybe, but I can’t fire it back, even if it’s just like simple thing, to them, I might need nine, sixteen seconds, and to really think it through.
Jasun: So it that a problem then? Do people get impatient?
Mark: Sometimes, I don’t respond and they ask the question again or they ask a different question. But that’s a social, probably a technique, I need to still work with.
Jasun: Yeah, I don’t know. You and are very different, like the way we adapted to being autistic, whatever that is. Almost opposite really. I learned a way to be very rational and very eloquent and very intelligent, intellectual, expressive, all of that stuff that I learned to be good at, which was a way of avoiding too, it was a way of distancing myself from what was going on within myself, and whatever I learned anyway, that’s, and being an artist as well, was a way to sort of channel that autistic sensibility into something that was socially acceptable. ‘Oh he’s an artist, he’s supposed to be odd’, you know. But with you, I mean, you don’t communicate verbally very well, like, you don’t use words in a way that is easy for other people, or in a way that communicates easily or clearly to people. But I think that’s also a way for you to hide, even though—
Mark: They don’t, they don’t, they don’t come together. A simple email… It just doesn’t come quick. Once I know it I can then do it probably for a thousand years, but it just doesn’t come naturally.
Jasun: Is it frustrating though, what you’re describing, finding it difficult to actually—?
Mark: It has been. Yeah. Definitely. Just simple words, very simple words, unless they’re connected to a memory problem, connected to the memory in some way.
Jasun: Until autists can communicate their inner experience people will just dismiss them as retarded, autistic, disabled, challenged, weird, whatever it is.
Jasun: Mm-hmm. Socially inept, as a negative, as something missing, rather than that, like, when you use language, it seems to me that you’re trying to communicate your inner experience, which is what people do, when people talk they’re trying to communicate what’s going on for them. But because your inner experience is radically different from most people’s, most non-autistic people, you can’t communicate it using language in the same way as other people use it. So then you try and create your own language to express what’s going on internally. Is that more or less what you’re doing?
Jasun: So then it has this nonsensical element to it, which is, well, that’s probably an accurate expression of what’s going on internally but then it’s difficult for other people to—
Jasun: Because people are just relying on the words
Jason: They’re not tuning into the subtler currents and meanings that are underneath the words, they’re just trying to decipher the words and it doesn’t work, because, it’s incoherent.
Mark: And you do, I believe you can miss out on social interaction . . . . I think the first thing is to accept that there’s a problem, and then regress slightly from looking at experiences, and realize that maybe it’s affected social interaction with friends or friends that could have been friends and it’s quite shocking.