Open Topic

Misunderstood Norms

One of the struggles that I have faced continually in my autistic life is that of norms that just don’t come natural to me. For things that are taught growing up to a person that somewhat come natural to them, for many autistic persons, they just don’t become normal for them. More so, when they are reminded by a supporter to do something that should come as normal, this can become frustrating for them and complicates the process.

As such, I had day program yesterday and it was a busy evening ahead of me. After I got home, I had to go to my church for a funeral visitation to see a deceased church member, then I would go to my parents’ house for a bit before going on our daily walk which was part of a community event that evening, so a lot of functions. As such, this would require several wardrobe changes.

As I left the day program, I received a phone call from my mother reminding me to do things that should come naturally when having to go to church for a visitation like shaving, showering, clean clothes, etc. Again, they should come naturally, but they don’t. For me, it doesn’t come naturally, although it should of the points necessary of when to shower. Not that I didn’t mind taking the shower at all, and I probably needed to anyway. It did feel comfortable by the way and was a much-needed way to destress.

Another nuance that doesn’t come naturally is the proper way of how clothes should fit. Too tight?  Too Loose? Too revealing? Understanding these nuances don’t come natural to me. Additionally, what doesn’t come natural to me is when a shirt is inside-out. In fact, I didn’t realize it until I got to the church and it wasn’t too late, so I just went with it.  No one said anything and my best guess is they didn’t realize or make a big deal out of it.

But these are the things, like several other norms that just doesn’t come natural to an autistic person. This to me and possibly many other autistics can become very frustrating because when we are corrected by one of our supporters, it makes us even more frustrated because we see ourselves as something less of sorts as a person who can’t do simple things such as put decent clothes on to go to a funeral visitation.

The COVID-19 Pandemic as has for the neurotypical community and especially now has made it difficult to practice universal masking or not. This can further be complicated as to whether or not one is fully vaccinated or not. Understanding norms for an autistic person that even a neurotypical cannot understand makes it twice as difficult for us to understand.

Lastly, one must understand that understanding some norms can cause some rift at times between people in things that aren’t always taught naturally or to a person such as when visiting unique places, like for males at urinals in a public restroom for example, which if the norms are not followed properly can cause unwanted behavior. It took me many years for me to understand these norms, however it may never come natural to some, so caution may need to be heeded in this realm.

So, in closing, I suggest learning norms as early as possible and linking up with others of similar interests as soon as possible. That way, it makes both parties share mutual ideas and especially in the instance of two autistic individuals, they can learn off each other. We as a autistic community must understand the need of not only peer education, but that of early intervention so that one can live a life to their fullest potential.

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