January 14, 2019

Not all autistics are oblivious to body language. I’m not.

I can tell exactly when a raised eyebrow means I’ve done something odd, a startled glance means I’ve spoken in an irregular rhythm, or a confused look means I’ve spouted too many ideas with too little context.

But I rarely know what to do about it.

Sometimes, I can apologize. Clarify. Learn. Do better next time. Add new information to my internal database of what people expect.

Other times, the reaction is too subtle, and I’m stuck wondering: Did I actually make a mistake? Will I make things even weirder by acknowledging it? If I ask what I did wrong, will they even know how to describe it?

They probably won’t. Social interaction is more intuitive for non-autistics, so it makes sense to them without words.

I need words for everything. Some autistics need pictures. Nearly all of us need practical explanations to illuminate the mysterious magic of intuition.

More importantly, we need assurance that it’s okay to make mistakes.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.