June 28, 2021

Many autistics despise being called robots, because it falsely implies that we lack emotion, empathy, and even humanity. Seriously, never compare someone to a robot unless they’ve already done so themselves.

That being said, there are also autistics who feel warmly about robots, and see them as a useful metaphor for our differences. I am one such autistic, and here is why.

Robots are literal. They can follow directions precisely, but not infer a missing step or hidden caveat.

Robots are strong – and fragile. They can handle certain kinds of physical impact far more than non-robots, but sputter and spark if a drop of water hits their circuit board.

Robots often speak in a monotone voice, or in sound effects. They can mimic the cadence of a conversation, but for them, tone is an extra layer of customization on top of already meaningful communication.

Robots are sometimes feared. Because they are similar to non-robots, but not identical, it can cause an “uncanny valley” reaction when they suddenly do something different.

Robots have limited computational power. They can process data in amazing ways, but at a certain point, they crash.

Robots are logical. They cannot handle contradictions, which makes them excellent at the pursuit of truth.

I personally relate to robots for these reasons, and proudly embrace the traits we share. Beep boop!

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.