So I'm taking a rock climbing class at the local community college. One of my good friends is taking it with me (for fun, and because, well, having a seizure at the top of a climb would be pretty horrendous if no one knew what was going on).
A few things to note right now:
a) I'm pretty much left handed for athletic purposes.
b) It takes me a few tries to reverse something to work for my left hand-ESPECIALLY if I look at it forward on or from anywhere but right next to the demonstrator.
c) I start displaying imminent frustration before I really notice it, especially when the lights are bad (they were).
d) On me, that looks like sideways hand flapping, gettingallthewordsoutatonce, being a bit more "don't touch me".
I get services from the disability office at school. I am not required to tell my instructors what I have, but it's not like it's a big secret, and I don't want autisticy stuff to be assumed to be seizure activity or vice versa, so everyone knows. No big deal. Or it shouldn't be.
But! My rock climbing teacher! He's *aware*! So we're doing our thing in class, learning to belay after we learn to make the knot. All the staff and instructor types are right handed. Apparently I'm the only left handed person they've ever met. So they tell me 15 different ways to do things, most of which amount to "be right handed".
I'm a bit frustrated with this, but fine. Whatever. I can climb like woah. I manage to not drop my friend for whom I am belaying-I was clipped into a ground anchor because of a significant size differential, but he did not, in fact, die. I also did not die while climbing. Well done, us.
Then this minty staff lady comes over and tells me to do the opposite of what the instructor told me. Oh...kay...
None of these people have The One True Truth of belaying, obviously. All the things I did did, in fact, work. But being told 3 different things in 5 minutes (again, most of which amount to "be right handed") is a bit much. I'm still clipped in to the ground anchor, ready to go, my hands flap a little.
"Unclip. There seems to be negative energy and emotions.:
Blah blah unsafe blah blah not concentrating blah blah frustrated.
"Well, you told me one thing and she told me another and it's what I was doing so I'm processing".
"Unclip & we can have a discussion"
"...I want a cognitive interpreter..."
Seriously, I had no idea what I did. None. The first thing that came up in the 'discussion' is that as an autistic person I just operate a bit differently, and oh man did the condescension turn on.
No, I do not need little words. No, I am not going to hurt you (WHAT is it with instructors asking me that this week? I'm 120 pounds. I am about as intimidating as a rabbit). My friend, who actually knows me, trusts me to not drop him. Please, keep your distance. Please, stop acting like having me here is a big fucking hassle. "are you sure you can...do this?" Why yes, yes I am. Crazy, but I'm in pretty good shape.
I do, in fact, learn even! I'm good with the distance keeping, honestly. I'm not so good with you talking to my friend (who was cognitive interpreting) like I'm a recalcitrant child, like I cannot hear you. I am not ok with the ableist language to my classmates and the assumption I wouldn't get it. Yeah, 'people like me' do in fact have recreational activities.
Oh, people like me are even adults! I don't care how well meaning your statements are, when they're talking points out of PSAs about children, I hate you. No, I won't fucking take a 'time out'. I will go get food. I will go for a walk. Anyone who thinks 'time out' is acceptable language to use with a grown woman is too far out of realityland for me to listen to, ever, but yes, I do in fact remove myself from situations.
Oh. The catalyst for his freak out? Flapping is BAD. No. Seriously. I thought he was saying it to cover for something even more ridiculous, friend said he was dead serious. Awareness tells him so!
Thanks, 'awareness'! I need to have my coping mechanisms demonized! It makes my whole damn day! I need to be treated like a kindergartener by a community college PE teacher! That made my whole week! And, shit! Having half my teachers afraid of me, THAT makes my whole year! Because we all know that all autistic people are Manchurian Candidates or something, just WAITING to completely lose their shit and destroy everything in our paths!
Except we aren't. If this is 'awareness', ignorance really is bliss.