Introducing… Life Through the Lens of Autism, a new monthly column for Spectrum Women’s magazine for all women on the spectrum. Written from the unique point of view of a spectrum woman who started life after college as a computer science engineer back in the 80’s, a single parent, mother of four (2 biological, 2 adopted from China), teacher of students with special needs, enjoys cats of all ages, survivor of suicide loss, author, advocate, speaker, loves purple, and one who doesn’t take life too seriously because… why? The column will be an excerpt of autistic life, a bit sarcastic, slightly humorous, yet has a point to make. I hope you enjoy the first column, “Lost – With a Map”, the first of many to come. ~ Lisa
Meandering through conversations is like trying to find your way somewhere on a map. You think you know where the conversation is going. You’re following the words people are saying, just like following the legend on a map. Words are the map of the conversation. Then, all of a sudden, you’re lost! The words are no longer making any sense and you are lost in the conversation. You listen, concentrate on the words, try to figure out where the conversation went, and why you are lost.
It’s difficult, but through context you realize the other people in the conversation are using words that don’t mean what they really want to say. The rest of the people in the conversation seem to have the mapping function to the right meaning of the wrong words being used, but you don’t have that same mapping function. It’s like trying to get to a destination using a map where the legend doesn’t match the symbols. Impossible!
Then, when you are starting to feel inadequate, less than, and left out of the conversation – you realize it’s not you – the map is all wrong. So, instead of changing ourselves – we need to start insisting the map be used properly. Words have meanings! People need to use words correctly so nobody gets lost in a conversation.
It’s time for people to start using words correctly; just like the map legend needs to have the correct symbols to be of any use to someone who is lost. The map needs to be challenged and changed, not the people reading it… or get a new map!