By Stims Stammers and Winks
The theme for this year’s Autism Positivity Flashblog is “Acceptance, Love and Self-Care”.
I would like to write an extended meditation on what the meaning of Autistic “Love” might be.
In the traditional set of meanings, love is something established by two people in mimicry of the love of the creator. Within the heteronormative couple form, love is about consistent reaction, attunement to the being of the other, locking eyes and arms in a supreme bond, love is supposed to be a dual connectivity, about sharing a feeling and a shared devotion.
The historical positioning of the Autistic as an idiot-savant countervails the supposed bicameral nature of the love chamber. Autism was originally defined as “morbid self-absorbtion” but it was defined as such during a time in which European thinkers had only recently hastily philosophically *created* the notion of independence and individuality, a concept that had not existed previously due to the overwhelming power of the family and the nation.
The suggestion of a self separate from the world is a very risky one. The self always incorporates representations of groups identified with, objects, details, pieces of imagery and devoted notions or ideas. “The self” if it is a thing, is perpetually porous, like a cell whose borders actively expand and contract, like the real borders of nations that cannot let everything in but also cannot let nothing in or out. The self operates by osmosis and by spilling out.
Autistic people are often defined by their interests. Indeed, the category of Autism has become popular because as a concept it allows people whose diagnosis implied (in our ableist society) that they could not have interests or enthusiasms, to have legitimated interests and enthusiasms. The savant model provided a basis for integration of psychiatrically and developmentally disabled people into society because of its claim that sometimes these “useless eaters” might have an interest or a desire, that could be useful to society. In short, twice-exceptionality and idiot-savantism as a sub-concepts within Autism integrated many mentally disabled people rediagnosed with Autism into able-society through suggesting that they could be “able” through their obsessions.
Autistic Love is two-staged: it is osmosis within the concept of the self and then it is doting concentration on the new self- limb.
Autistic love terrifies because it is a kind of monosexuality: it is looking into the loved as a section of the “I”. This is also why Autistic Love is fatal within a heteronormative ableist society: when another is incorporated into the self and becomes the subject of concentration for the various spasming fluids that make up that self, what is not happening is a connection to the greater socius that re-affirms that socius. Autistic love is regressive: it curdles the loved into the Autistic.
But Autistic love is also disruptive: the way we love, we offer all of ourselves to the other and therefore put ourselves at risk: we say everything and anything, we open our mouths and chatter until the truth comes out and we make our being with the other about expanding ourselves.
Autistic love is, in many ways, more about opening until nothing else can be opened.
Autistic love is a trusting love: it is an open love, when we can love you, we can tell you everything, often to our mutual detriment.
Autistic love is multi-hour obsession, it is from 9am until 3am, in repetition without stopping.
Sometimes, Autistic love is hard to read, other times it is overt: it is direct and it is not complicated.
Autistic love does not have to be through talking or nonverbal communication, it can be subtle.
Autistic love sometimes is between the self and a toy not a person, Autistic love does too much work and not enough listening.
Autistic love makes a habit out of the loved and refuses the capitalist flexibility demanded that would make love a small subsection, instead Autistic love takes on the form of the loved.