Autistic Survival Guide/Survival Strategies

Survival Strategies edit

  • Note: This section is deliberately brief. It represents an attempt simply to list the survival strategies available. It may take form at some future point. As always, feel free to add anything. JWM.

Regression and Seclusion edit

  • Lots of autistic spectrum people use this technique when life gets to them.
  • Method:
    • Find safe accommodation. If this is going to be with other people, you need to be prepared to communicate with them and pay attention to their needs.
    • Reduce all face to face human contact and living expenses to their bare minimums.
    • Optionally, use your problem solving skills to raise your living standards on the cheap.
    • To get the best from this method, it is best to take stock of the resources (financial, human and otherwise) available to you and to find ways to preserve them. This is better done sooner than later, but can be quite difficult if depression is an issue.
  • Pro's:
    • Plenty of time to re-evaluate life, develop marketable skills and rebuild self esteem.
  • Con's:
    • Isn't really an option for school age autistic spectrum people unless homeschooling also is.
    • Lack of face to face human contact can end up being quite depressing in the long term, and doesn't help develop social skills at all.
    • This method can also be a trap. If you regress to a point where you lose social skills you once had, it can be much harder to rejoin society. There is a growing number of young people in Japan who are in this situation.

Escapism edit

  • Method:
    • Get socially involved in clubs, groups or communities that promote your passions. It's a good bet that other autistic spectrum people will be there.
    • Interests such as science fiction, fantasy, gaming, anime, cartoons, information technology that is cutting edge or experimental and autism itself are good examples of this, as is any interest that is considered "geeky".
    • You may find the experience more enjoyable if you read #Suggestions for Autistic Spectrum community building.
  • Pro's:
    • You get to socialise in a more fulfilling way since the ground rules of any particular interest are usually very clear, and all you have to do to get respect is be good at promoting the interest in question.
    • You get to see that you aren't really damaged for thinking the way you do.
    • You get to see that life has the potential to be much deeper and more interesting than it seemed to be capable of.
    • The self esteem you get from more worthwhile interactions can be enough to help you survive the less worthwhile ones.
  • Con's:
    • Groups of autistic spectrum people tend to attract non-autistic people who usually have ulterior motives. Or rather, motives they usually don't declare up front.
    • Non-autistic people may get involved to become more proficient in the interest itself.
    • Non-autistic people may get involved to learn more about people who share the interest.
    • Non-autistic people may get involved to learn more about somebody else who is autistic spectrum.
    • Non-autistic people who will probably be "superficially charming" may get involved for the particularly nasty purpose of "trolling". This is a well developed form of bullying.
      • Something worth knowing about Trolls is that learning how to deal with them is a good way to train the senses.
    • Eventually you realise that autistic spectrum social problems apply to autist social situations too, despite the fact that autist to autist communication is easier.
    • Autism as an interest tends to put things in stark reality. There are good things and extremely bad things about autism as an interest. My current explanation for this is that there seem to be very few ground rules, and too many differing agendas.

Avoiding Social Situations edit

  • A lot of the historical autistic spectrum figures who found success in pursuing their passions seem to have been following this strategy.
  • Method:
    • Avoid social interactions that don't promote your goals in life.
    • Learn the body language of someone who wants to stop interacting so that few difficult situations arise.
    • If people you don't like are persistent in interacting with you, make sure they receive no pay off from doing so, so that they eventually give up.
  • Pro's:
    • Respect from other people will be easier to attain if you are good at what you do.
    • This seems to be a good compromise between seclusion and full on social interaction.
  • Con's:
    • This pretty much requires active pursuit in a passion or interest to work.
    • Building a reputation purely on your abilities tends to make people believe that you're socially adept too.

Imitating Non-Autistic Behaviour edit

It should be noted that, if you are going to imitate non-autistic thought or behaviour, always give yourself time to be you. Be sure you give yourself time and space to just be yourself and not worry about pretending.

  • Method:
    • Read about rules of social interaction, and about how to learn what they are yourself. This is what most of Marc Segar's book appears to be about, and what part of this book is about.
  • Pro's:
    • Works very well for the basics. Perhaps it is in part because non-autistic people keep them in the back of their minds too.
  • Con's:
    • Flat out doesn't work for anything more than the basics. Figuring out what the rules are and when to use them is just one problem. The rules are endless and non-autistic people appear to estimate them within appropriate limits on the fly.
    • Pretending to be non-autistic for too long can be detrimental to your health, self-confidence and well-being. Give yourself set times and places where you can be yourself.

Imitating Non-Autistic Thought edit

  • In retrospect, it strikes me that this seems to be what Marc is trying to get at when he refers to "plot".
  • Method:
    • Learn everything you can about how non-autistic people think and learn. They learn moment to moment. Read about w:Monotropism monotropism/polytropism and what Marc Segar has to say about "plot" and imitate non-autistic thought processes in all social situations involving non-autistic people.
    • Learn about their priorities in life too, but avoid imitating the social status game unless you want life to become needlessly interesting. Use the second commandment instead. I have found the things in the "non-autistic thought processes" and "visualising social interaction" sections satisfactory in these regards.
  • Pro's:
    • Most of the things in the non-autistic world make a lot more sense when knowing where they're coming from.
    • Body language appears to make much more sense "naturally" too.
    • Done correctly it seems to work fairly well in gaining some equality, but most non-autistic people seem to find people who can otherwise interact well but who are unwilling to play the social status game creepy, amongst other things.
  • Con's:
    • Can feel un-natural, superficial and boring. It's rather necessary to have some kind of pay off to make this work.
    • Mastering the art of thinking according to "plot" means that it is possible to BEGIN learning the way non-autistic people do. At this point, it becomes a game of "catch up".
    • Time spent imitating non-autistic people is time that could be spent in other forms of self development that can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Educating Others About Autism edit

  • Method:
    • Learn everything you can about the differences and similarities between autistic and non-autistic people. Although there are many different theories and new ones all the time, nobody seems to know the exact differences yet, so be prepared to develop and share your own perspective on these things.
    • Avoid falling into the trap of believing autism is a handicap if at all possible, and if you can achieve that, avoid letting others do so too.
    • Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that all autistic people are exactly the same as you. Each autist experiences life differently. There are as many "types" of autism as there are autistic people. It is often called a spectrum disorder for a reason.
    • Non-autistic people have difficulty getting outside an acquisitive cost/benefit frame. Even when they know you have autism, they will not necessarily be able to get outside this frame. They will often believe (sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly) that their problems are as great as yours. Many of them strongly dislike supporting others without getting something at least as great in return.
    • Non-autistic people have difficulties making transitions from causal explanations to normative conclusions. They will often continue to view a perfectly good reason as just an excuse.
  • Pro's:
    • Can mean deepening the friendship with the person you disclose to and perhaps gaining a little relief.
  • Con's:
    • This pretty much implies disclosing being autistic spectrum. Marc Segar writes about the implications in his guide in the "coming clean" section and others have too.

Getting a Diagnosis edit

  • Method:
    • Get an appropriate diagnosis or re-diagnosis.
    • Claim any available government assistance.
  • Pro's:
    • The assistance available may be worthwhile.
    • It's good to know you are not delusional.
  • Con's:
    • The assistance available may not be worthwhile and many nations do not offer any assistance at all.
    • Once you have a diagnosis, people may lose interest in your development, given current perceptions about autism, and your self esteem tends to suffer. These are _not_ good things for the wellbeing of young people.

Knowing Your Rights edit

  • Knowing your rights can help you in all official business, such as in dealing with government authorities, legal authorities, educationan providers, health insurances, employers. Issues can include admission/application and non-discrimination, getting support and understanding, and getting help when needed. For example, what if you are witness in a legal court and struggle understanding language literally, and may not remember faces of other witnesses? This is an area where you can constructively help everyone, including yourself in an for the situation appropriate matter.

Equal Rights Activism edit

  • Method:
    • The core of an equal rights perspective is the claim that a systematically disadvantaged group is suffering from structural oppression.
    • It involves advancing claims that certain things should be provided, or recognised as rights, which are not universally recognised as such today.
    • A person with this orientation will usually find the bulk of information available unhelpful. They will choose to focus on accounts written by autistic people which express indignation at mistreatment.
    • Groups of this kind are usually organised through web forums and e-lists.
  • Pro's:
    • Seeing a structural cause of the problem raises self-esteem.
    • Research has shown that social movements make participants feel empowered.[[1]]
    • Participants believe they are addressing the real causes of various problems, whereas other strategies adapt to an unjust context.
  • Con's:
    • Can lead to judging non-autistic people too quickly.
    • Tends to produce a defensive reaction in non-autistic people, and in autistic people who are well-integrated into the current system.
    • Negative reactions to advocacy can be a source of stress.
    • Can be frustrating due to the lack of rapid, demonstrable successes.
    • Social movements can be internally acrimonious.
    • Anger against non-autistic people might be better directed at powerful actors who treat all human beings badly, and are unconcerned about human life except for its marketable qualities.
    • Critics view such activism as distracting from concrete life-goals and as a waste of time.