Inside Out Autism
I put my bra on today inside out, as I usually do, and it occurred to me that this is a perfect metaphor for being autistic.
I don’t understand why of all of things, bras would be put on “rightside out,” with the seams to the inside of my body. I want the nicely finished seams as close to my skin as possible. I don’t care what is on the outside.
It’s true that I rarely wear my regular clothing with the tags hanging out, with the unfinished, ragged seams on the outside. But why don’t I do that? It makes no logical sense to always be putting the nicest part of my clothing to the outside instead of to my own skin.
Except that this is what it means to be neurotypical, to always be more worried about something LOOKS to other people, instead of how it feels to yourself. Being neurotypical means always checking to think about how people will SEE you instead of asking yourself how you feel inside.
I think that most neurotypical people do this so reflexively that they don’t even think about it before they do it. They may never even consider the possibility that wearing something inside out would be far more comfortable, but would also have the effect of making them look strange to others.
(I have one neurotypical friend who informs me that she doesn’t notice the seams at all, something that is astonishing to me, but I suppose makes sense since one of the other symptoms of autism is “sensory sensitivity.”)
As a kid, I had a sibling who could not for the life of them figure out how to put clothes on the “right way round.” They got bullied and teased a lot. I could figure out what the right way round was fairly easily, and I put clothes on the “right way,” because I liked to be right. This is how I’ve “survived” to the degree that I have in the neurotypical world. I’ve just learned all the rules about how to dress by rote — or by bad consequences that help me remember to stay out of the fire.
Here are some of the rules I’ve learned about dressing:
1. Always wear clothing that is dark in color and conservative in style, ideally several years old — this avoids any comment on your clothing at all, which is highly desirable as an autistic person trying to avoid notice of NT’s