This post originally appeared on the Field Notes on Allistics Tumblr.
Lately, I’ve been reading the work of philosopher Martin Heidegger, whom some have said was allistic (excuse me; Allism Speaks informs me they prefer to be called “persons with allism” or “tragedy cases”). To paraphrase (a oddly “allist” habit), Heidegger says that we would assume we were coterminous with the universe, if we did not have moods.
Do allistic people not have moods?
I watch my children, say, if they wake up on a rainy morning on which we were supposed to go to the park. There are nearly always tears and fussing (oh, that stereotypied demand for comfort so common in allistic children!), even though the park is, for the most part, under a shelter and so large parts of it remain dry, and even those that don’t are impervious to water and my children, having hefty doses of that allistic hyposensitivity to discomforts, literally do not care if they sit in a puddle on a wet swing or slide. It’s as if my kids genuinely believe themselves to be coterminous with the universe; if it’s raining, then alas, we must have a terrible, sad day, even when the weather actually impairs their daily activities not one bit.
But then I watch my same children desperately attempting to get normal children at the park to play with them, and having complete meltdowns when normal children only want to play alongsidethem or expect my children to understand the concept of using one’s imagination instead of regularly dictating the requirements of play (I’ve tried, in calmer moments, to explain to my kids that the jungle gym can be botha pretend spaceship and a real jungle gym at the same time, but they don’t seem to get it. It’s as if they genuinely believe that unless all the children at the park agree on what the jungle gym is supposed to be, no one can enjoy it). At those moments, they would seem to have “moods,” to understand that normal people don’t always share their feelings. I don’t get it.