Sad Little Autistics Can’t Get Girlfriends and That’s Not a Bad Thing (#ASDay2017)

How many TV shows and movies now feature sad white cishet autistic guys who can’t get dates now? I’ve lost count.

Plenty has been written about tired-ass stereotypes in shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor, and I’m not interested in rehashing it here. Nor, to be honest, am I even particularly interested in revisiting the stuff on gendered expectations of dating and emotional labor that Emma and I did a while back (the first post of which is here if you missed that particular rabbit hole back when).

I am interested, on this year’s Autistics Speaking Day, in speaking about the following points:

1. Yeah, we flirt weird.

When I headcanon fictional characters (or real people) as autistic, it’s usually because I’ve noticed one or more traits:

  • They don’t catch veiled jokes or insults, or if they do, they’re baffled as to why the comment was made.
  • They either don’t catch on when someone else tries to mold their behavior, or they do catch on and still don’t play along, instead regarding the manipulation like a mildly interesting painting or bit of street litter.
  • Find the right topic, and they “bubble.”
  • …And don’t stop bubbling.
  • …Even when the jokes or insults about it are no longer veiled.
  • They flirt by bubbling, combined with increased flailing, and attempts to fix either just make them more hilariously bad.
  • And/or they flirt by recruiting someone to help them with a task because that person is highly competent at the task, inform the other person they recruited them for their competence, and then get confused when this comment is not taken as a compliment. (This form of flirting is often unconscious on the autistic person’s part.)
  • …Point out that either of the above are in fact flirting, and they freeze.

I’m 35 years old, dated for 15 of those years, and have been married for 5 of them. And I still, to this very day, my 12,830th day on this planet, don’t understand how to do non-autistic flirting. Half the time I don’t even recognize it when I see it. Neil Gaiman could invite me to a seduction and I’d still have no idea what was going on.

I flirt weird. I think non-autistic people flirt weird. And I daresay I’m not the only autistic person who feels this way.

2. No, that’s not a problem.

The plethora of books, articles, and blogs out there on how to teach autistic people to date sure make our weird flirting sound like a problem. So do the handful of (well known, but typically unrestrained) borderline stalkers in the autistic community who do things like ask every presenter at an autism conference how he, the speaker, can finally get himself a girlfriend – a thing that happened as recently as, oh, last month.

Which is to say: these “resources” make it sound like our weird flirting is a problem for cishet autistic dudes. While there’s a whole industry out there on helping these hapless individuals find girlfriends, there’s actually nothing at all on how to help cishet autistic women find boyfriends or on how queer autistic people can find anyone at all.

Again, Emma and I beat the reasons for that to death already. My concern here is that all these advice pieces presuppose that our weird methods of flirting are somehow problematic and wrong.

They’re not, and here’s why:

3. The only reason we want to know that you find our weirdness problematic is so we know if we’re wasting our time.

Do you think autistic people flirt weird? Tell us. Are you put off by our weird flirting attempts? Tell us.

And then fuck off.

I often headcanon both fictional characters and real people as autistic based on characteristic patterns of awkward flirting. And I headcanon their romantic/partnery persons of interest as “worth feeling warm towards” or not based on how they respond.

People who love and care about us? Find our weird flirting endearing. They like it. My husband thinks I’m the cutest thing that ever freaking happened to him, and we’ve raised kittens. He thought my bubbling, flailing, and rating of him as highly competent was prime friendship material. And that’s why he gets to keep me.

If you don’t find us endearing, say so. We like to know when we’re wasting our time.

…Oh, and if you do find us endearing, say that too. We might turn into that Breakfast at Tiffany’s “seen” meme for a moment, but that’s temporary. Remember, like writers, we’re notoriously bad at knowing when we’ve been invited to a seduction – and we genuinely appreciate people who can inform us without making it creepy.

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Jacob Szalapski Doesn’t Know When to Quit

Two years ago, I banned a Facebook user named Jacob Szalapski from a group I admin after he violated a stated group rule.

He responded by messaging at least a dozen of my Facebook friends to accuse me of being a “prissy suburban SUV driving soccer mom, and a sympathizer and spy for Autism Speaks.” The details of that saga, including screenshots of the messages Jacob sent me and others, are here.

I never responded to Jacob directly. Instead, I blocked him on Facebook. He never responded to the blog post itself. Other people did, though, and Jacob took umbrage to one particular comment.

Jacob took a lot of umbrage to one particular comment.

Today, Jacob Szalapski left the following messages on this blog’s Facebook page:

They/it reads:

Hi, Dani. I had trouble finding your mutual friends to add them with my other accounts to bypass your message requests folder to message you, plus my other accounts were taken down, but now I can message you at this page.

…Repeated 12 times, split between two separate messages.

The end of the second message reads:

Although, remove her lying comment from your blog, if you want to avoid more spam.

Since my 2016 blog post and the comment to which Jacob refers, I’ve been blocking and ignoring him on the premise that most Internet trolls go away when they get bored.

Because Jacob is not going away, however, I’ve decided to give him what he wants. I’m going to publish every single response he has left to the comment in question, right here. And I’m going to let you, readers, make your own decision about his behavior.

The Comment That Started It All

The comment Jacob Szalapski wants me to remove from the blog post linked above is this one:

It reads:

Alexandra marie

April 1, 2016 at 12:16 am

i hope jacob get some serious help. he stalked me on facebook for months and insisted we be married for some kind of all Aspergers family thing. i myself am on the spectrum and he made account after account to pursue me as i blocked him. i googled his name today to see what had become of him. he still contacts my friends as they didnt block him but this is someone who wants to use our community to full a sick ego.

…And Jacob’s First Response

Here’s Jacob Szalapski’s first comment in response to Alexandra Marie’s comment, left April 6, 2016.

Because the original is a text wall, I added paragraph breaks between major ideas for easier reading below.

The first message reads:

Jacob Szalapski

Apr 6, 2016

on BREAKING NEWS: Autistic….  PENDING

That is a lie. I did not stalk her on Facebook. She sent me a friend request, I accepted it, she chatted and I replied. She blocked me on Facebook. The next day, I saw that she had sent a friend request to my other Facebook account (business account), and I accepted her friend request on my second Facebook account, and messaged her apologizing for what could have caused her to block me (she had not told me beforehand to not message her). So: Accepting her friend request that she sent on my second account, and then messaging her during a Facebook friendship that SHE requested – is not stalking. She then blocked my second account too. OKAY THEN.

Anyhow, I never said anything about being married or in a relationship, or starting a family. I just said from my second Facebook accountthat blocking someone rather than just unfriending is often excessive, because people unfriend people who they want nothing to do with because people were not Facebook friends before they met…but blocking is saying that you think that someone is even WORSE than someone who you never met because they were not BLOCKED before you met them.

Anyhow, I think it is shameful that this Alex Marie was and is pretending to have autism/Aspergers and trying to make a mockery of us. Clearly she does not have autism. Women with Aspergers do not get uncomfortable around men, and are more certainly not prissy and catty and stuck-up by thinking that everyone who they do not like is creepy just because they do not like them. Hey, I rejected some women who messaged me on OK Cupid, but I do not think that any of them are creepy. This Alex Marie clearly does not have Aspergers, because she does not have the same personality as me and she does not think like me. Either she is misdiagnosed or she needs to stop faking for all this trendiness and “white knighting” bullshit. And I never said anything about marriage or anything like that.

As for contacting her friends, I SENT THEM FRIEND REQUESTS THAT THEY ACCEPTED AND I DID NOT THEM OTHER THAN TO REPLY TO THEIR MESSAGES. And the only reason why I sent them friend requests was because they were recommended by Facebook as “people you may know” as a result of mutual friends.

The Second Message

Here’s Jacob’s second comment.

This one (again, with paragraph breaks added by me) reads as follows:

Jacob Szalapski

Apr 7, 2016

on BREAKING NEWS: Autistc… PENDING

I never stalked her. She sent me a friend request, I accepted her friend request, and she started a chat with me. I rambled with a few long chat entries because I was shy and did not know what to say, so because she was not interested, she blocked me (and did not tell me at that time to not contact her). OKAY THEN.

A few hours later, I saw that she had sent me a friend request to my second account (my business account), and she had never cancelled the friend request. I accepted her friend request, and sent her a message from this second account, during a Facebook friendship that she had requested, apologizing for what could have caused her to block me. OKAY THEN. Accepting someone’s friend request that they sent to a second account, and messaging them during the Facebook friendship that that person requested is not stalking.

I never said anything about relationship, marriage, or a family, and this Alex Marie clearly does not have Aspergers/autism, because autistic people have the same personality as me and think like me, and this Alex Marie is too prissy and catty to have Aspergers. Shame on her for pretending to have Aspergers and making a mockery of us.

I sent friend requests to her friends, who had been recommended to me by Facebook as people who I may know, and most of herfriends accepted the friend requests; and I did not message or chat with any of her friends unless I was replying to messages or chats that they sent me. Even so, if she wants nothing to do with me, we were not FB friends before, but that does not mean that we were blocked before we met. There is a difference between unfriending and blocking, and just because you do not like someone does not automatically mean that they are creepy.

This Alex Marie is clearly prissy and catty, faking her Aspergers, is overreacting, and is delusional.

The Third Message

After the two messages above, which I never allowed out of the moderation queue, I heard nothing from Jacob Szalapski for several months. Then, Jacob began a pattern of leaving an innocuous comment from a different IP address, which I would approve, and then following with a variation on the above comments.

Here’s the first of that particular series:

It reads:

NYXC

Oct 6, 2016

on BREAKING NEWS: Autistic….  PENDING

I did not stalk her. I accepted her friend request, we chatted she blocked me, the next morning I accepted a friend request she sent to my second account and messaged her from that account apologizing for what could have caused her to block me. She blocked me again. I also merely sent friend requests to her friends, who were suggested to me by FB, and many of them accepted my friend requests. I also said nothing about marriage or family.

The Fourth Message

When I deleted the message above and blocked the IP from which it was sent, Jacob Szalapski tried again, with a different username and from a different IP address. Again, he left an innocuous comment first, in order to get the username/IP approved for commenting before leaving this comment:

This comment reads:

UpstateNewYorker

Oct 25, 2016

on BREAKING NEWS: Autistic…. PENDING

I never stalked her. She sent me a friend request, I accepted it, we chatted, she blocked me (and did not tell me to not contact her), and the next morning I saw that she had sent me a friend request on my second FB account. I accepted her friend request, and then sent her a chat – during the FB friendship that she had requested – apologizing for what could have caused her to block me. She blocked me again. I also only sent friend requests to her friends (who had been suggested to me by FB), and many of them accepted the friend requests. I also never said anything about marriage, kids, or family.

The Fifth Message

Immediately after the message above, Jacob Szalapski also left this message on my blog post:

Which reads:

UpstateNewYorker

Oct 25, 2016

on BREAKING NEWS: Autistic….  PENDING

Jacob Szalapski here. I never stalked that Alex Marie. She sent me a friend request on my second account, and I then accepted her friend request on that second account after she had blocked me, and then I messaged her – during the FB friendship that she had requested – apologizing for what could have caused her to block me. She blocked me again. I also only sent friend requests to her friends (who had been suggested to me by FB), and many of them accepted my friend requests. I also never said anything about marriage, kids, or family.

After this message, I either saw no further attempts by Jacob to leave a comment on the blog post, or I deleted them. (I don’t remember which; the fifth message here is the last one of its kind currently in my blog moderation queue.)

In Conclusion

Tl;dr version:

  • I banned Jacob from a Facebook group for explicitly violating a stated group rule.
  • Jacob Szalapski responded by messaging at least a dozen of my Facebook friends with nonsense about me.
  • I wrote a blog post about the nonsense Jacob had spread about me.
  • Jacob never responded to me in any way regarding the content of the post itself….
  • …but he did message me five times over six months about the content of a comment left on that blog post, and
  • he attempted to circumvent my blog’s comment moderation settings at least twice in order to do so.
  • As far as I know, Jacob Szalapski has never tried to have Alexandra Marie’s comment removed from my blog by any official means (such as by contacting WordPress). If he has tried, news of those efforts have never reached me.
  • Eighteen months later, he spammed by blog’s Facebook page inbox and the page itself with copypasted comments….
  • …which include a demand that reads in a threatening manner.

Readers: You are welcome to draw your own conclusions from the evidence presented here.

Jacob: Stop.

My Very Autistic Novel is Out Now. Here’s How You Can Get a Copy.

frontcoveronly

It’s here!

Here’s how you can get it in the format of your choice:

E-books: On Kindle or in epub format.

In print: On Amazon or from the publisher.

A Note for Most of the World: If you’re not in the U.S. or Canada, Autonomous Press can’t currently ship to you directly. If you can’t order in your current location via Amazon, shoot me an email (verity@verityreynolds.com) and we can talk about getting you a print copy from my SECRET AUTHOR STASH.

Do You Review? Email me! Let’s talk.

Fun Stuff for the Holidays

We have book bundles.  And toys.  They are glorious.  And if you order them today or tomorrow, they’ll arrive by Christmas.  Or Kwanzaa.  Or the start of Hanukkah.

FUN TOYS

From Ink and Daggers Illustration, BUTTONS.  I’ll be ordering an “Ask Me About My Conversion Therapy” as a stocking stuffer for myself.  “Respect the Stim” and “Vaccines Made Me Gay” also available.

BOOK BUNDLES

For Autistic Activists, friends with new diagnoses in the family, professionals who “work with” autistic people, and anyone else who needs to be In the Know:

  • The ABCs of Autism Acceptance, by Sparrow Rose Jones
  • Typed Words, Loud Voices, edited by Amy Sequenzia and Ibby Grace
  • The Real Experts, edited by Michelle Sutton

Anticipating the release of Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber?  Want to know what this “Neuroqueer” revolution in literature is all about?  Just want to read some dang good spec fic?  You need the NeuroQueer Horizons bundle:

  • The Spoon Knife Anthology, edited by Michael S. Monje Jr. and N.I. Nicholson.  (I have a piece in this one as well!)
  • Imaginary Friends, by Michael S. Monje Jr.
  • Mirror Project, by Michael S. Monje Jr.

(PS: Mirror Project will be re-released soon with a new title, so if you’re into collectibles, get your “first edition” copy while you can!)

Michael S. Monje Jr.’s Shaping Clay series follows the life and mishaps of Clay Dillon through an epic thirty volumes, the first three of which are in print.  While you can read Shaping Clay: The Elementary Trilogy in any order, I recommend the order listed here:

  • Defiant (nominated for the Lambda Literary Award!)
  • Nothing is Right
  • Imaginary Friends

(Nothing is Right is also slated for re-release with a new cover, which will also make this edition a collectible.  Get yours while you can.)

(Want to find out what happens next in the Shaping Clay series before your friends do?  Subscribe to the author’s Patreon!)

Love poetry?  We have a NeuroQueer Poetry Bundle:

  • Barking Sycamores: Year One, edited by V. Solomon Maday and N.I. Nicholson
  • Teaching Languagings to: Nonverbal Thinkers: The US Book, by Michael Scott Monje Jr. (I wrote the Afterword!)
  • Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms, Marcel Price, aka “Fable the Poet”

And, last but not least….

SOME SPARE CASH FOR YOU

Finally, whether or not you order by December 20th, you can save 20 percent (and learn all the latest news about our cool stuff) by signing up for our newsletter.

Fun With the Search Terms, Part II: More Fun With the Search Terms Than Part I Was

Periodically, I go through this blog’s list of search terms people use to get here, and respond to them as if they are questions searchers asked me personally instead of, y’know, Google.  Here are the newest ones on the list.

gay women with autism

There are a lot of them!  Also a lot of bisexual women with autism!  I am one of them!  But I am also married and monogamous so if this was a dating request I am sorry about that.

gwendolyn kansen cure

Oh no!  Is she sick?

neurodiversity advocates

*waves*

academic list for auisism

I’m not entirely sure what prompted this one.  Does the searcher need a reading list?  A lesson plan for an autistic (excuse me, “auisistic”) kid? A list of autistic professors?

I can probably produce all three, but not on what I’ve got here.

men do not do emotional labor

…Well.  They do some, unless they live alone in a cave (and they might even do some then; Tom Hanks was real kind to that volleyball in Castaway).  Some men do more emotional labor than others.

At the societal/cultural level, however, the bulk of the emotional labor falls to women in most cases, yes.

are there any autism publications that pay for submissions?

You want the “upcoming anthologies” announcements at Autonomous Press.

was lewis carroll autistic

No.  Yes!  Maybe?  IDK, diagnosing people who have been dead for centuries has always been a dicey proposition.  He might have just been really, really addled from all the formaldehyde and calomel in his diet.