“I am an actor, my play is life, my pay is survival.” – It’s something I said on another website earlier today in response to something a person said to me. It summarises how I go through life currently though. Over the years of living I’ve built an impenetrable fortress which I live in alone, and am unable to escape from. I nonetheless will continue trying to escape this metaphorical fortress of mine, however I suspect my efforts will be fruitless.
It’s a problem I feel is perhaps quite common, even if I take it to the extremes, I’ll give perhaps the most predictable example, getting a job. I’m 17 now and still lack an actual proper job (hopefully it won’t hinder my university applications) however it’s a slight catch-22 for me and a lot of other autistic people. A simple piece of advice that is so often given “Be yourself, relax, you’ll be fine”. That’s not really true for my case though. The person interviewing me for a job probably barely understands autism (i.e. they’re probably just aware it exists) and so if I be my quiet, socially awkward self (and especially if I tell them I’m autistic) I can say my chances of getting the job will go from 10% to 0%. It’s possible I could do the job as well as anyone else or perhaps better but they can’t look beneath the surface.
Historically there’s perhaps two main categories which examples of this may fit in, and we have nice widespread words for those instances, “Sexism” and “Racism”. It’s also probable that if a woman or person from an ethnic minority got turned down in a job, believed they were discriminated against, and made a fuss of it, it’d get in the papers, perhaps even the proper news channels occasionally… I predict however, it happens thousands of times to autistic people every day. The only solution is to master the art of acting, and to do it so well nobody suspects anything, and this example is just in a job, I could undoubtedly apply it to so much more if I so wished, but I suspect you get the point, and to act for so long, no breaks at all, it’s quite a challenge.