Daily Archives: August 12, 2006

A real conversation I had today


Setting: At a park I take my dog to, with staff and staff’s roommate. Staff starts off way at the other end of the park. As usual, I may jumble the order of the conversation, but what was said is approximately what was said.

Stranger: Oh… does that thing…

Me: (typing something unrelated to something else)

Stranger: Oh wow, so she types into that thing and it says what she’s typing.

Me: Yep.

Stranger: Is she deaf? Can she hear me?

Me: Yes, she can.

Stranger: How old is she? I’m betting she’s about 30.
Me: (typing while the two of them talk)

Staff’s roommate: I don’t know, I’m guessing around 25.

Stranger: I’m guessing around 30.

Me: 25.

Stranger (finally addressing me): Do… you… like… coming… here?

Me: Yes.

Stranger (again to me, evidenced by the very patronizing tone): Do… you… like… when… the… dogs… are… nice… to… you?

Me: Yes.

Stranger (back to talking to staff’s roommate): Do you take her out places like this often?

Staff’s roommate (inexperienced in these kind of conversations, but still uneasy): I think it’s [staff’s name] who does that usually.

Stranger: Oh, wow, it’s so nice to see what some people will do for each other, it lets you know there’s some caring people in the world. That’s so nice of her to do something like that for those people…

(Long pause.)

Stranger: It’s amazing what technology will let people do these days.

(Long pause.)

Stranger: What’s your disability, anyway?

Me: That’s a personal question.

Stranger: Oh okay… you know we’re born perfect… and we’re lucky to make it to 25 without something wrong with us… because it only gets harder…

Me: (thinking but not saying that I’ve been disabled from birth, gritting teeth, looking for escape route)

Finally I took my dog over to a different section that this guy’s dog couldn’t go in. I learned later that he went up to my staff and started asking her all kinds of personal questions about me, including what my disability was. She asked him if he’d asked me these questions, and he said he had but that I’d said it was a personal question, and she told him that’s probably all the answer he’s going to get then.

Note, this isn’t a matter of being ashamed or not-open about being autistic (in fact if he’d been a bit more observant he’d have seen the “Autistic Liberation Front” stickers on my wheelchair) or any other thing like that. It’s about not wanting to talk to patronizing people who seem to think they’re entitled to various details of my life no matter how they have to get them (and like my opinion is worth nothing in the matter), and definitely not wanting to give them what they’re looking for.

(Will stick categories on this when back to a computer that has full web functionality.)