For The First Time Ever, I Was Surrounded By Other Autistic Women
I made my way up to the seminar room on the first floor with very little idea of what I was about to experience. I was going out on a limb, moving well out of my comfort zone. It was bad enough that I hadn’t been able to figure out how the parking metre worked.
It didn’t take long to ease into the autistic women’s Meetup group that I had signed up for. Bodies trickled into the room until all seats around the conference-sized table were full. There we all were, a bunch of random strangers thrown together in room in an inner-city community centre.
But there was no awkwardness
Or at least most of us were so accustomed to awkward as our default mode that we weren’t inclined to judge it in others. I felt restless and fidgety but it was okay. Others were too. Instead of trying to stifle it, I just became aware of it and accepted it as this is how I roll. However others roll, that’s okay too.
We didn’t engage in small talk for the sake of it but welcomed the sprinkling of spontaneous comments from each other. There was an inclusive vibe, like everyone had an unquestioned right to be there. Strange as it may seem, I don’t often feel that, instead feeling as though I need to justify my attendance.
There was so much too talk about
Why waste time on small talk when there’s autistic representation in the media, diagnosis and disclosure, dating and relationships, work, inclusion and ableism just to name a few of the topics emerging from the conversation. These were people who had given a lot of thought to what it means to be autistic and their place in the world. It was just so interesting to be hearing and sharing perspectives on these issues. My brain was jumping with things to say.
I may have overshared
In the gymnastics of conversation, I never quite strike the balance between saying too much or too little. I veer between clamming up and saying nothing or not being able to shut up. As alluded to above, I had a lot to say on this occasion and I wasn’t holding back. I even threw my two cents worth in when the conversation turned to dating. I may have mentioned that fear of rejection has…