Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
So today I’m going to share with you something that I’ve been musing on a lot lately:
“Does autism make me a bad person?”
When it comes to autism, there is a very fine line between bad behaviour and autistic behaviour.
To an outsider, meltdowns appear like temper tantrums. Inappropriate statements and behaviours seem to hint at a naughty child.
It can be very hard to discern the difference.
As a child, I spent much of my time being branded as naughty. Growing up in an Irish household, I was no stranger to the dreaded wooden spoon…
I was notorious for my “temper tantrums”, I always seemed to say and do the wrong things, and I consistently found myself fighting with those around me. In short, I was a nightmare!
Worse still was the nightmare I lived on the inside.
I never could understand why I said or did bad things back then. My sisters never seemed to find themselves in the trouble that I always did. Something simple would just set me off like a rocket and there would be no turning back. After the smoke had cleared, sitting in a pool of tears surrounded by the wreckage of a meltdown, I felt like the worst person in the world.
“Why did I say that?”
“Why did I throw lego at my parents?”
“Why was I so violent?”
I was always left shocked and appalled my behaviour, crying for hours afterwards at the consequences I faced.
Oftentimes I felt as though I were little more than a criminal. My parents even threatened my bad behaviour with the police on a number of occasions- once going so far as to put my PJs in a plastic bag after telling me that they were coming to take me away! 😛
I tried so hard to behave, but I never could seem to keep it up for more than a few weeks. As I’ve told you before, I even tried running away because I couldn’t be good and felt obliged to leave.
But none of this behaviour was ever intentional.
Autists have no control over meltdowns; the brain is completely overwhelmed. In this state, literally anything can happen. Like Elvis, any trace of rationality has left the building. I’ll explore meltdowns next week in greater detail.
My tendency towards mimicry and my twisted sense of logic also impacted my bad behaviour.
I graffiti-ed a desk in school after perceiving previous samples around me to be the norm, I practiced swearing like a sailor and flipping the bird (I struggled with the dexterity of it) before secondary school to blend in – I even forced the habit of chewing pens as I thought that I needed a “bad” or “cool” habit when I went there!!!! Don’t ask me how I rationalized that one! 😛
Not good for your teeth kids!
Over the years I’ve better learned to control and prevent public meltdowns and restrict my social faux pas’, but on occasion I will wind up in a spot of bother just like everybody else.
Autism has huge influence over my behaviour, but do my actions make me a bad person?
This is a tricky one.
I’m not perfect. I often say or do things that can rub people up the wrong way, but for the most part, I don’t intend to do people wrong. Having been wronged many times in my own life, the thought of hurting another person greatly upsets me. When I unintentionally put my foot in it, I’ll torture myself for hours, weeks, even years afterwards for my missteps.
But I’ll always try my hardest to make amends and be better.
Even before I received my diagnosis I made serious efforts to try to modify my negative social behaviours. I oftentimes find that I overcompensate with my friends for fear of being perceived as bad like my childhood all over again. I’ll proofread your project at 2 in the morning, I’m always baking and making gifts, I even overcompensate with emojis for fear of the wrong sentiments coming across. I forever spend my days worrying how others may take me up wrong.
I’m constantly in a state of high alert that I’ll do something bad. In many ways I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to be the sort of person that I couldn’t seem to be as a child, as if by being good now somehow undoes the wrongs, or acts as a safety net in case I meltdown or lodge my foot in my mouth.
Yes, there are times in my life when I can be bad, say or do the wrong things or lose control; but that doesn’t make me bad. Autism can make me act badly sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that the person is bad.
I’m by no means Mother Teresa, but I’d like to think that I’m a good person 🙂
That being said, just because a person is autistic, does not mean that they are entirely blameless if they act badly. Indeed, much of my poor behaviour as a child can be attributed to autism, but there were also times where I knowingly chose to be bad, just like any other child.
Autism can’t always be used as an excuse for my actions.
Some psychologists for example, have theorized that Hitler likely had Asperger’s syndrome, but we couldn’t give him a free pass now could we?
Autism is a spectrum– there are both good and bad among us. We are human, we make mistakes- we just tend to make a few more of them than others 😉
Having autism doesn’t make a person bad, it merely makes us human 🙂