February 1, 2019

My last post included the phrase “the depths of despair,” which is a quote from the character Anne of Green Gables. I’m not sure if she’s autistic, but the scene is still worth quoting in full, as an example of a dialogue that aims to bridge the gap between two different neurotypes.

The effort is one-sided, with Anne taking the initiative to explain how she feels, rather than being drawn out with questions – but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s also a good example of someone explaining their own apparent “overreaction” with patience and self-awareness.

Here is the scene:

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.

“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”

“I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.

“Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths of despair?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling indeed. When you try to eat a lump comes right up in your throat and you can’t swallow anything… I do hope you won’t be offended because I can’t eat. Everything is extremely nice, but still I cannot eat.”

My last post, on reactions and “overreactions,” is here: facebook.com/544363332722525

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.