For as long as I can remember, a lot of what people say or do hurts me emotionally. Autistic children do not understand cruelty of any kind and are often at the receiving end of it.
"Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive... It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world... It is about developing differently, in a different pace and with different leaps."
- Trisha Van Berkel
Autistic girls are more prone to shutdowns while boys tend to meltdown. As much as I remember most, if not all of my childhood (unfortunately), the memories feel more like watching a movie rather than being a part of it. I shutdown so often from being overwhelmed by people and the environment, that it feels like I wasn't even there.
The autistic mind thinks at multiple levels and angles therefore holding absolute opinions about people, events, or ideas goes against our natural way of thinking. To belong to a social circle of any sort, it seemed as though you needed some degree of judgement or aggression (whether physical or passive). This is one of the ways that autistic girls are socially "disabled".
"Dislikes words and events that hurt people... Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray"
- Samantha Craft
These feelings of being misplaced still linger, but accepting human nature for what it is has helped me cope. Although I wouldn't be the same person if I was neurotypical, I often ponder about the "what's ifs" had I been born "normal". This helps me be more forgiving towards others because I understand that allistics have a natural instinct to keep away from anything different. Differences are perceived as threats. In that respect, I'm missing a survival instinct because if someone was an actual threat to me, I'd probably still be looking for that one redeemable quality about them.
In addition to not understanding the lower nature of neurotypical humans, autistics are also very sensitive to the burdens of others. One woman reported breaking down in tears after a morbidly obese person walked past them. I know how society treats people who don't fit the mould, so I always feel crushing emotional pain whenever I'm near anyone I sense has a difference, deformity, disability, vulnerability, exceptionality, or that doesn't conform to societal "ideals". I literally absorb the energies of those around me. A girl once told me that her partner broke up with her and I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart sink. All the surrounding noise slowly tuned out, until a faint "Margo, are you okay?" of another person snapped me out of it. Being this receptive to others makes it hard for me to enjoy parties because although there's happy people, there's also always an "odd one out", an uncomfortable introvert, or someone secretly sad. Even when someone mistreats me, I can usually sense where they're coming from so I take the hit. There was a point in my life where I envied girls that people didn't mess with, but that's not me. I can stand up for myself (now), but I'll never be able to wear an intimidating mask.
A lot of autistic women have developed the ability to block their sensitivity. This results in some aspie women coming off as "tough", almost "too tough". I have developed the ability to block my sensitivity only when necessary.
I've never mistaken my sensitivity for weakness. Sure, in battle I'd get obliterated...but in the world, especially in our times, sensitivity is a superpower. It can feel like a curse, but it's meant to be a gift. You can be sensitive and strong. You can be disabled and strong. You can be autistic and strong. I don't need to walk around with a warning label "sensitive skin" because although my skin is sensitive, it's also thick.