Mette Harrison
3 min readMay 19, 2022

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Having No Filter

One of the things that NT’s complain about most in dealing with autistic people is that we “have no filter.” We say exactly what we’re thinking all the time, without regard for if those words are socially acceptable or if they might hurt someone else’s feelings. I know I do this and that it annoys people around me. I also know that other autists around me do this, and that I am hurt to the point that I sometimes do not want to spend time with them. I sometimes wonder how they can hurt other people so often and never think about other people’s feelings.

And yet, I also want to say that it can be refreshing and wonderful to be around someone who says exactly what they’re thinking all the time. It can be funny and weirdly healing to be around someone who isn’t worried constantly about what might be right or wrong to say or whether or not now is the right time to say that. If I can detach myself a little bit and just realize that this isn’t about me, it might possibly not hurt as much.

See, autists aren’t trying to hurt anyone. That is the difference. When a neurotypical says something that is blunt or seems cruel, it’s intended to hurt. They are aware of the rules of social hierarchy and they have thought about their words and what those words will do to the person who hears them. They often plan or are at least conscious of the effect of what they are about to say. Neurotypical people are always reading the room, always playing a game of one-up-manship, trying to move up on the social ladder to a better position.

But we autists, we have no guile. We don’t understand social interactions and we don’t have any idea what the social hierarchy is or how we fit into it. We’re not trying to make you feel bad. We’re not trying to push you down to raise our social status. We have zero idea of any of that and zero interest, too, even if you tried to explain it to us. It just feels like an enormous amount of work and why WHY would anyone do that.

If we blurt out what we think in the moment, you might take it as a compliment. Because the other choice is that we say nothing. In many social situations, I am very quiet, afraid of saying the wrong thing, afraid of everyone around me assuming the worst of me, afraid I’m breaking some rule that I don’t know about. Most autists have been told repeatedly throughout our lives everything we do or think…

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Mette Harrison

Autist, Ironman Worlds triathlete, Writer, Right-Brained