I am not allowed to fail.
That sounds ridiculous, but think about how you react to the people that fail you and the things that fail you.
Usually, people may let you down, make a mistake, do something wrong. And what’s the normal reaction? Well, varying degrees of upset, but we’re all human people. And people get people: letdowns are forgiven, mistakes are corrected, and you empathize with their human failures.
What about when your things fail you?
Your car. Your appliances. Your tools. Your computer?
Are those so quickly forgiven?
Those things are supposed to work. All the time. Just like they always have. When they fail, there’s no empathy. That wouldn’t make sense. It’s easy to get mad, stay mad, call your object stupid, etc.
That is why we are not allowed to fail.
There’s a certain, unspoken expectation of autistic people, especially the independent ones of us, with limited needs, greater independence, and routinely consistent in doing things.
One of our generally agreed saving graces is routine, repetition. We’re creatures of habit, of expectation, and the functions we serve (whether broad or limited) are often consistent. I mean, shoot, this blog still runs after YEARS! It’s its own autistic habit, nigh unfailing.
But what happens when we fail?
I’ll tell you.
It’s like when your grandma, you know, gets a little older, but she’s still cooking, baking, what have you. The cookies might not be quite right. The meals maybe a little underdone. Or maybe it’s a cherished friend or loved one, and perhaps their biscuits needed some extra love in the oven.
Do you even mention it? Do you respond?
No, of course not. You smile, nod, mention that it tastes “fine” and take another globby bite of biscuit goo with a side of extra bacon, please and thank you.
But me, I’ve sworn off making one of my favorite recipes for people because I failed it once and never heard the end of it.
It’s not just that.
We leave one thing undone that we normally, routinely do? Panic. Something comes in late? Concern.
We can’t afford to be anything but brutally, precisely constant and consistent. Even emotionally, our outbursts find less tolerance, understanding, while our downward spells are less understood and more inexcusable.
The enemy of unwavering consistency is a break, an interruption, your car not starting, as you pound the steering wheel out of rage. The functions weren’t exceptional, but essential. Until they stopped. That’s when the ire begins.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
We autistic people are human too.
Let us fail for once.