Tribe meets tribe: Autism and friendship
May 27, 2016 § 7 Comments
Meeting other autistic people is a rarity. Being openly autistic it’s happening more. You have to be out to be seen, and be seen to find others. Online brings a richer crop of tribe members, but in so-called real time, not so much.
Yesterday brought a glorious exception, and an hour and a half of utter joy.
There’s a special regard and tenderness between autistic friends, I’ve noticed. Often we meet first online. “Real time” meetings follow on from something no less real but somehow 2-dimensional in comparison.
As a newbie autistic I’m learning so much. Each day I wake up and quite literally pinch myself. As I gain more direct exposure to my culture I continue to peel the layers of that onion, I’ve spoken about in previous posts.
I see my life retrospectively with new eyes. I see it autistically. I see it as autism. I see each beacon moment as an autistic one, because that is who I am to the core.
So it hits me in waves the struggle I’ve had with the physical world. The struggle I have, I should say, BECAUSE it continues and will never change. The challenge of living in a hostile sensory world is not visible to others yet it exhausts me.
And this is where part of the joy in meeting other autistics resides. VALIDATION.
I suddenly know that I have NEVER experienced this in the way neurotypicals must do, basically all the time by simply being together.
You only know what’s been missing when you find yourself in it’s company.
So this is what it’s like to be part of a hidden tribe.
Like non-identical twins separated at birth, we two tribal siblings have found one another. Even knowing that we’re diversely diverse, we’re nonetheless cut from the same cloth.
We see it and feel it.
We drink tea and eat cake.
We laugh, and laugh at our laughter.
We make eye contact and take turns to speak.
Our empathy crackles around the room.
You made sure I was seated safely facing away from the neon lights.
I checked before hugging you, never assuming touch as a given.
Regard and respect like no other.
Forged from the shared gene pool of autistics sensibility to an unthinking and unknowing neurotypical world.
We bust just about every autism myth in record time.
Yesterday I learned that tribe needs tribe.
For validation. For self-esteem. For courage.
To flourish we need one another.