Life in a Criminal Class: The Autistic Existence in the Institutional Ghetto

Growing up on the spectrum, there was a facet of life ever degrading that neurotypical society played out that circumvented their conscious minds. If they recognized this, then they possibly would act in a more humane manner toward the more deviant neurologies of their human siblings. That would be the double standard of behavior the overseers of the plantation of our society impose. I speak, largely, for high-functioning autistic people who are more deviant than disabled. Being autistic comes with a lacking social awareness and means our social crimes are often conspicuous. Neurotypicals seldom recognize their own sins. Many a party I wasn’t invited to where gropers grabbed and vodka inebriated the kids who got away with things far worse than I often got punished for.

Every day, almost, in middle-school, the SPED program I was in had us have our behavior rated on a 0-10 scale every class period. These ratings translated to what level we belonged to, there were three and, later, four levels. Spending a long enough time in level 3 or 4 got one eligible to enter a mainstream class. (through that system I managed to get some mainstream classes). In 5th grade, about thrice per week, I was sent to in-school suspension for some minor infraction. In Kindergarten, I was expelled or, if you will, institutionally aborted from Blessed Sacrament Catholic School for similarly minor infractions that did not involve outbursts or property destruction.

Certainly, the Roman Catholic Church had two reasons to not expel me. First, I was a very pretty little boy and I am deeply offended by the fact their priest didn’t recognize my beauty. And secondly, I had a disability and if they couldn’t handle it that sent a pro-abortion message to all expecting mothers with disabled fetuses. It didn’t make sense that teachers who supposedly had a direct line to an omnipotent deity lacked the magical powers or divine wisdom to handle an Asperger’s toddler. In any case, when I was at the school, I got time-out almost every day at recess and while it was merely time-out, it was a form of public shaming since the time-out was on a bench in the playground. If God was watching, then one wonders which kids on that playground had committed more sins than others.

 If one is not a cultural relativist, and I am certainly not, then sin, that meaning ethical and moral wrongdoing, is different than social crimes which may be amoral and not immoral. In all of these cases, I was not being judged for the content of my character according to some widely accepted or rational ethical system but the whims and feelings of offended onlookers. I don’t mind therapies as intense as even ABA if they are applied to the lower-functioning among us to get them to a level of functionality that they may enjoy the fruits of human culture and affection.

Yet, care need be taken when policing the idiosyncrasies of the higher-functioning because doing that does many things but foremost it conveys the sense that different behaviors are misbehaviors and misbehaviors are, by definition, ethical transgressions. And if one class of people is punished for ethical transgressions disproportionately more than another when there is no actual disparity then that class of people is being presented as morally inferior. And that is only to mention the emotional hardship of being judged and not the constant fear of that micromanaging policing. I have spent my entire life in constant and deep fear of authority, in part, due to a valid paranoia that I’m on informal probation by authority and one that is enforced by snitches everywhere.

That was one of the more psychologically damaging affects of living in the SPED system. I wrote about bullies being vigilantes over the social crimes I committed. The authorities in my life were also vigilantes. Being on the spectrum has come with a wokeness of policing that most people think you have to be Black to have. It is the creation of a class of people who believe themselves to be inferior, morally inferior, to the rest of society. It says they’re bad people who are less lovable and deservedly less accepted than others. We were taught, implicitly and sometimes explicitly, that we were a burden on society for making them tolerate our offensive mannerisms and other offensive traits. And aside from a class of people whose sins are not more than their judges’, it is a disgusting hypocrisy that peers and teachers who would return to their lives, to their cocaine and their shoplifting, almost completely oblivious to the shameless double standard they possess.

In my life and the lives of many others on the spectrum, it is not a matter of character on which you are judged or metaphorically whipped. It is often characteristics as superficial as the melanin in the skin. That is to say, the punishments for our differences are similar to racism. And racism, itself, comes in the form of judging amoral behaviors. Bill Cosby and members of the Klan have regularly derided the behaviors of racial minorities. And delinquency has often been a pretext and alibi for racist actions. I am not cultural relativist and occasionally behaviors of different cultures need to be modified or stopped. Yet, one should reflect upon whether the behavior is truly unethical and whether the offense felt over the behavior was legitimate or not. Are you punishing an actual crime or are you imparting the image and reputation of criminality onto a good person who doesn’t deserve it?

Good people with strong characters should not be made to feel like they are the opposite. Medical treatments should not be punitive punishments. Love should not be a reward for conformity. And people need to recognize their own flaws before judging the flaws of others. As I often say about vigilantism, always remember that the on the minor stuff that everyone is guilty of something that bad and you wouldn’t want vigilantes to come after you. So, follow the Golden Rule and if you wouldn’t want to be judged or attacked by vigilantes over some infraction then don’t participate yourself. And that’s just for the actually unethical stuff. And, as always, love should be unconditional but these people aren’t murderers or rapists, usually, so it shouldn’t take much strength to love them and I hope that everyone reading is, at least, capable of that sacrifice.

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