Is Being Othered a Co-Occurring Condition of Autism?

I am not grateful for autism research. I used to think it was the key to improving autistic lives, so with self-interest gleaming in my eyes, I threw myself into participatory research. I contributed whenever invited and often, uninvited.

Disenchantment was slow in coming. At first, all I knew was that it may be uncomfortable, but that I should be grateful to be included, so I did the autistic usual; I masked and bore it. Gradually, I began to define what was making me fidget and started objecting out loud, to attitudes and language I found demeaning or paternalistic.

I had never heard the verb “othering.” Then one day a senior academic, who I had been working with for several years, asked me to participate in his talk. I stood on the stage as I was introduced to the packed conference: “This is Cos, an autistic adult.” So there I was, a woman in late middle age, fully equipped with white hair and breasts; yet apparently this needed stating, out loud, to my face, in front of an audience. I was being shown off as a specimen and I was mortified. Nobody else was introduced as an adult, as people are assumed to be adults, unless they are children. Remember those Victorian etchings of public lectures, with all the toffs in starched collars and monocles and the solitary wild haired, drug eyed mute, led on in a canvas shift? Yup—it felt just like that. 



https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/aut.2021.0019

Comments

  • Teach51Teach51 Citizen
    I liked her analogy of being "a specimen" in a Victorian setting. it made me do some soul searching too for "othering" my son when he was first diagnosed with ADHD. I would do everything differently today. I really understand where this lady is coming from, "othering" may be unintentional but it is painful and misguided nevertheless.
  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
    I've gotten so used to being "othered" that I often don't feel included as a human being anymore. I wrote on a thread on WP that I feel more like a chimpanzee, or some other ape, that has been taught to act like a human.

    I can recognize and appreciate the many, many similarities I have to other people, but I'm not human enough for them to actually respect me, nor am I human enough to fully understand and be understood by them. I can try as much as I want to be like other people and not be "othered" by them, but it will never be enough because I am not wired the same and people will always notice that.
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    Hylian said:
    I've gotten so used to being "othered" that I often don't feel included as a human being anymore. I wrote on a thread on WP that I feel more like a chimpanzee, or some other ape, that has been taught to act like a human.

    I can recognize and appreciate the many, many similarities I have to other people, but I'm not human enough for them to actually respect me, nor am I human enough to fully understand and be understood by them. I can try as much as I want to be like other people and not be "othered" by them, but it will never be enough because I am not wired the same and people will always notice that.

    When I was in an unsupportive environment, which was basically until a few years ago I felt like a trained sea lion. This unatural image of a sea lion on a little platform, wearing a fez hat, balancing a ball on his nose and clapping his flippers would slide into my mind when I felt an awareness of the ridiculuousness of my situation.
    Pre recognising that I was autistic I had no idea why I felt that way, I think it was my real sense of self coming through.
    Hylian it would be nice if we could support you a bit better, I see you as one of the most outstanding people on this forum, who I have a genuine respect for. Here you are quite regular and normal.

    A close relative of mine came out as gay late in life, he is a man typical of his generation, few words on the emotional topics. When I told him that I am Autistic and explained masking, his few words were that 'people will think what they want about you regardless of what you say or do, so there is little point caring about what other people think, but get on with living your life as yourself.


  • MarknessMarkness Member
    I’ve always been treated like an “other” since I was a child and I still am treated like an “other” even in the autism community. I don’t fit in anywhere and no one seems to care about my suffering. 😥
  • Prometheus81Prometheus81 Citizen, Member
    It's part of the reason I let very few people know of my diagnosis.
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