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But what are your thoughts on felines? August 1, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in cats, interaction, introductions, social.
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I have a very simple system for gauging how a person will react to finding out I am autistic. Its strength lies in that if I’m in a situation where it might not be safe to be “out,” I can back out of the conversation and nobody will be the wiser.

So here’s what I do when I want to know how someone might react to me: I start talking about cats. Not in the “I have a cat and she’s the craziest creature on the planet” sense, but cats in general. Here’s what I’ve found:

If the person says she or he doesn’t like cats because “they’re so antisocial,” or because “I just don’t get them,” he or she isn’t going to get the concept of autism advocacy. Not at first, at least. The person expects all people to be dog people, and cats throw wrenches into that particular set of works. The trick with these people is to let them get to know you as an individual first, then start talking autism.

If the person is able to understand cats, you’re probably okay to talk autism right away. A neurotypical person who “gets” cats is much more likely to be able to truly sympathize with how autistic people experience the world.

There are, of course, people who don’t like cats because they’re allergic, or phobic, or for any number of reasons unrelated to feline psychology. There’s nothing to be done about that except changing the subject, really. Like I said, it’s not perfect, and these aren’t hard and fast rules. Nothing about social interaction is. It’s what makes it so difficult for autistic people.

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Comments»

1. Colleen/Osh - August 7, 2008

maybe this is why my son and I are such cat people! We have 5…Evan has Asperger’s and I have bipolar/anxiety issues…and we get cats!


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