When you tell me about “the weird ones” and name only people in the group who are openly neurodivergent, you remind me that in any other conversation between most other people, I’d be included and my responses dismissed just as easily.
When you tell me “they’re weird”, you make me wonder if you think of me that way too, if you all do, although of course none of you would say it to my face. You might not mention the word “autism”, but if you’re only talking about people who are autistic and lumping them together as one “weird” entity, then we both know exactly what you mean.
When you then tell me “weird isn’t a good word, it has negative connotations, let’s say different“, you’re vaguely getting somewhere, but it doesn’t change a thing if the same old attitude remains.
When you tell me “but you’re nothing like them”, you’re missing the point entirely. I don’t want to be told that I’m “not like them” like that’s supposed to be reassuring. I am like them. I just want to be told – I want you to know – that it’s not a bad thing.
When you tell me you have more sympathy for me than the others, you’re making it clear that I’m only a full person in your eyes because it just so happened that you got to know me before you got to know my neurotype. You’re making it clear that I can only be a full person in the eyes of people I’ve just met if I manage to pretend to be someone else.
When you tell me I’m less “oblivious” and “uncaring”, I hear “you’re alright, at least you have the decency to apologise for your own existence.”
When you tell me that I’m not like the others, that I’m somehow better than another human being, that I’m somehow more acceptable, you remind me that your acceptance of me is conditional. You remind me that I can’t put a foot wrong, lest I fail to pass your test. You become part of the reason why I’m so self-conscious about how people think of me, why I’m convinced I’m some sort of combination of whiny, annoying and incompetent, why “aaaaaagh I’m so awful” is part of my daily vocabulary, why I’m constantly seeking validation from everyone else, why I know that I shouldn’t need to feel like this but I do, why you wanted to comfort me in the first place.
You may not realise it, but when you feel the need to insult other autistic people to try and make me feel better, you’re actually making me feel a whole lot worse.
So don’t. Please, please don’t.