• J.R. Reed

Am I Any Less of a Man Because I'm Autistic?

Updated: May 10, 2019


I know I'm not, but it doesn't always feel that way.

Recently I once again found myself questioning whether or not I was less of a man due to my autism.  The reason for getting down on myself are many and varied, so it had to be something big, deep and complicated that led to this latest bout, right?


No, the thing that most recently has me questioning whether or not I’m less of a man because I’m autistic is due to dating, something I swore off months ago, yet once again I recently found myself online looking for someone to date.


What a stupid decision that was.


This go around was pretty easy, all I had to do was send out some messages and wait for them to not be responded to. That’s right. In three weeks of poking around online, not one person bothered to get back with me.


That’s one thing I never got about online dating. If someone takes the time to send you as message are you too good to take a moment to send something back saying no thanks and good luck? It’ll take you twenty seconds max and will let the other person know that indeed, you are a decent human being.



In the past, on the rare occasions where I did get some response, we would chat a bit and the moment the woman would hear the word “autistic” or the phrase “service dog” they would be gone. Ghosted wasn’t a strong enough word for their disappearing act.


Which leads me to wonder, am I less of a man because I’m autistic and have a service dog?


I don’t think so, but apparently there are those that do. I’m not just talking about the women on dating sites. I’m talking about men who give me the eye roll and a smirk when they see me and Tye (my service dog) out and about.


I’m talking about the people who explain something to me in a way I don’t understand and when I ask for clarification, it starts with a heavy sigh as if I’ve done them some huge disservice and then their reply is spoken to me in a slow manner as if I have a hard time understanding anything at all over a third grade level.


I’m not stupid. In fact, my IQ puts me in the top 2% of Americans, it’s just that my brain is wired slightly different than yours and I didn’t get what you said the first time.


It’s sad that I’m fifty-three and can go periods of days and weeks where I question my manhood simply because I was born the way I was. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. It just so happens that some of my strengths happen to be writing and things of that nature.


We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my getting my head ripped off in front of a fairly large group of people because I didn’t understand something that was said and I got my head ripped off by someone who is a narcissist of the highest level. Those aren’t my words, those are the words of people he thinks are his friends.


After the ripping off of the head he went on to bully me, making fun of my autistic traits and telling me how they made me less of as person. I know he’s the asshole and not me, but a year later, I’m still afraid to go out and about in this small community of 4,000 because when I tried to get him to sit down to talk about how we could co-exist and leave each other alone, he threatened me.


So, on and off (more on) for the last year, I’ve felt like less of a man because I’m autistic and apparently my traits bother some people so much that they’re willing to degrade someone to their face because of it.


I played recreational ice hockey for twenty-five years as an adult and coached/taught clinics for many years as well. If you saw my aggressive playing style, you probably wouldn’t question my manhood, but I’ve hung up the blades and all my twigs (sticks) are in the closet now, so no one will see that side of me anymore.


So, even though I go through long periods where I question myself and my manhood because of my autism and my need for a service dog, deep inside I know I’m not less of a man, but it’s what comes to the surface that boils up and makes me wonder about myself.

It’s weird to say that I know I’m not less of a man, but I have many, many moments where I truly feel like I am less of a man because of it.


What’s your deal? Does any of this resonate with you? Maybe it’s not autism, but is there something else that makes you question whether or not you’re truly a man? If so, please share your stories as we all need to hear that we’re not alone.


Until next week, do your best to keep your disability from overtaking your life and keep being the best version of you that you can be!

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