Hello from NYC
Hi! I was here for a while back in October or so, shortly after this site was originally founded. Apparently I never posted an intro thread (or, at least, I can't find it if I did).
I'm one of the many very belatedly diagnosed autistic older people. All my life, I've felt like a freak, never quite fitting in anywhere, and especially not in any mainstream social world. At various times in my life, I've participated in various oddball subcultures, and I've been intermittently involved in the LGBT+ rights movement ever since the late 1970's, long before it became respectable anywhere. (I'm bi.)
Along the way I managed to gain experience leading small groups of one kind or another. I'm far from the world's greatest leader, but I think I'm better at leading small groups than I am at participating in groups led by others.
I have great difficulty with unstructured, unfocused, in-person conversation with more than one person at a time. My mind needs something to focus on, either a person or a topic.
I also have difficulty picking up on subtle hints. Luckily for me, when I reached my early twenties, there was a fad for "assertiveness training," and there were books and lots of popular magazine articles on how to be assertive without being aggressive. I took these as a guide not only to my own behavior, but also as a guide to recognizing what kind of person I could be friends with: I needed my friends to be assertive.
Luckily, because of my general life strategy of seeking out fellow oddballs rather than trying to fit in with the mainstream, and because I live in a highly multi-cultural neighborhood, I've managed to avoid much of the pressure that many other autistic people are subjected to, to imitate culturally mainstream NT body language. I can't imitate NT eye contact rhythms worth a damn, and I don't try. However, alas, this and other oddities are probably among the reasons why I'm under-employed.
I'm now a very strong believer in the need for a much bigger and better organized autistic community than now exists. (See my Longterm visions for the autistic community.) I'm also the facilitator of a small local peer-led support group that met in-person before lockdown and now meets online via text-base chat.
Here on Neurovoice, I noticed just now that the thread Some guidance for the membership levels mentions a category named "Site Discussion," listed as one of the ones that new members can both view and post in, and I remember it as one of the categories I posted in a few months ago. However, I don't see it on my list of categories. Does that category not exist anymore, or has it been hidden for some reason?