New Normal? In Autism, it’s something different.

My hair is back to normal. As you can tell.

Which begs the question: that’s normal? I guess so. These days, my hair is normally longer than it is short.

If I were to walk around town, it’s pretty normal. At work, it’s not necessarily abnormal. At church, yeah, it ain’t normal. Even in the autism community, y’know, it might be abnormal by comparison — I grew this awesome redness and haven’t given myself a ‘normal highlight color’ like most of us else in the neurodivergent community.

What is normal?

I had an abnormal week. I worked only two days, non-consecutive. I spent Monday mostly outdoors. The other days I spent being a stay-at-home-dad, working every trick in the book to get my daughters to nap at the same time, for hours on end — which they did. Yay me. Go Dad.

Was that normal?

I tend to talk more than others do when others don’t and talk less when others expect me to. I’ll answer some emails in as few words as possible, while waxing labyrinthine and poetic in others. I’ll begin meetings with wild stories and pack a rabbit warren of tangents into what becomes my trail. At times I feel like I’m the only one who gets it. It’s not a matter of smart/dumb — it’s just different, and I feel my lens to be clearer.

Is that normal?

I’m finding more and more people who share the same ‘abnormalities’ I do. The obsessive lateral interests. The hyperfixations. The same categorical social miscues. The similar toolboxes of coping with people and environments and life. The penchant for prolixity. The aversions to contact: eyes, handshakes, proximity.

Aren’t those normal?

Autism is my normal.

It’s normal for me to overexplain, to conjure obtuse analogies, to confuse literalities, to cringe at a lack of specificities, to walk in unpredictable gaits as my mind cycles through ideas, to rehearse conversational possibilities before they happen, to analyze details that you’re uncomfortable with me knowing but you’re just not mindful enough to obscure, so of course I’m going to ask about that reminder to give Richard a heartworm pill and comment on how unexpected it is to either have a dog by the name Richard or a person named Richard who requires a heartworm pill.

It’s normal for me to forget things in front of my face, to ignore things beyond the periphery of my routine, to seize up and shudder at a full sink, to spend hours emptying my dishwasher, to want to help so bad that I become an annoyance, to earnestly come back with details about episodes and events that impact you, to reach the apex of achievement and wallow in pity within a day, to cry at random and have nothing to explain the rare and strange event.

This is normal.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

As for what really sparks joy, join the many others who’ve followed my exploits on my channel. But watch out: I don’t have “casual fans.” If you dig it, YOU DIG IT. This episode is a GREAT affirmation of the autistic experience. Hope you enjoy.

Dancing with Autistic People

Don’t do “the dance” with us.

You know what I’m talking about.

Starting with a “Hi Hunter.” Or “Good morning.” Or “Hey.” And then waiting.

Then I might finally respond in kind. With a ‘hi’ back. Or ‘Good morning.’ Or ‘Yes?’

And then they keep digging, stepping, prying, trying for a Viennese waltz with an uncommitted partner: “How are you?”

By this point, my autistic alarms are blaring.

I’ve seen this, felt this awkward crawl time and time again. And that’s the issue.

This kind of engagement — the sort where, at the end, it’s rarely about the dance. By the time I’ve gone through committed assent and otherwise strung along into the goodness of the morning, how I’m doing, how my weekend was, and whatever other detail I can remember about the requestor, what they do on weekends, if they have kids—

Then they get to the point:

“I’ve been meaning to ask—”

“I had a question for you —”

“While I’ve got you —”

Some of you genuinely ask how I’m doing because you care, and you just want to know, and I am glad for you. This, we appreciate. Some of you have a latent interest in the shambolic chaos of my life and want to know what a weekend looks like in Hunterland — I’ll oblige that.

That is truthful.

You know me by now. You know my type. You know types like me. We autistic people don’t dance as a means to an end.

We dance for the dance.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

And hey, check my latest episode on YouTube — some of you enjoy the words, but hey, I do a lot of speaking of words in these. Enjoy.

Boring is a Great Privilege

If I were a drink, I’d be tap water served eerie still, unshaken and not stirred. As a cereal, I could ‘outbran’ bran. And as ice cream, I’m the kind you get when “Plain Vanilla” just seems a little too adventurous.

I’m a boring guy.

I eat dinner earlier at a time where even senior citizens would make fun of me. I prefer muted colors. The hardest thing I’ve had to drink was Mike’s Hard Water® from my shower. I haven’t had a birthday party since age 8. The last time I went out after dark was to check the mail.

I’m boring autistic.

So not only am I boring, I’m an autistic boring. Even among autistic advocates: I’m not “hip,” I don’t have cool multicolored hair, and I still think “vibe” is a noun and not a verb.

I’m old, I’m a homeowner, I’m a dad, and I have a job and career I’ve held for over a decade. And I’m autistic. That doesn’t really connect with a lot of the autistic audience who is younger, still finding their way around themselves, their lives, their present and future. Of course you “vibe” with someone more like you, only cooler. Not “less like you” and “way uncooler.”

But that’s not every autistic audience. That’s not every autistic advocate and ally.

Some groups, companies, organizations: they’re boring too. They’ll nod inside when you bring up autism advocacy, but they’ll recoil as soon as they see a visible face piercing. They’ll say they embrace and support autistic initiatives, but whoo boy hold on, not if it means, you know, “having weird colored hair.”

It’s not bad to be boring. It can be bad to want boring.

Boring is my privilege.

For all the uphill traction that genuine, authentic, “weird,” hip, and otherwise non-boring autistic advocates would face in the boring bastions — I don’t face that. I love that many passionate autism allies are authentically themselves, acerbic, and colorful, and dedicated their voices to bettering neurodivergent lives.

It’s a shame that many more boring places and spaces aren’t ready to embrace you.

But they embrace me. They see my straight laces, my straight edges. They think, “Well, he looks like a put together young man with a well-tended rolodex. THIS is the kind of autistic advocacy we can tolerate.”

Boring privilege is my weapon.

Because guess what they hear as soon as they make the mistake of letting me in the lobby? Of thinking that my plainer-than-vanilla, more-boring-than-bran veneer would somehow let them off the hook? Of assuming that I’ll have “more institutionally friendly” autism guidance fit for people who wear collared shirts?

EVERYTHING YOU WONDERFUL, WILD, ANTI-MILD AUTISM ADVOCATES AND ALLIES WOULD TELL THEM.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

Oh, latest episode! Enjoy.