Every Autistic Person has a Josh in Their Life


f you choose to keep your story to yourself, that’s OK. Some of us would rather keep our lives to ourselves.

I want to start by saying that this is my story. Each of us on the spectrum has their own version(s) of this story, and this is not a competition to see who has the best, or worst, story. I share these stories with you so that you can see what I’ve gone through and to realize you are NOT alone.

It’s my hope that in reading this you will find the courage to confront your fear and share your story so that even more people realize they’re not alone. If you choose to keep your story to yourself, that’s Ok too. Not all of us are comfortable sharing our personal lives.

Almost four years ago I left the hustle, bustle, and sensory overload of Los Angeles for the peace and quiet of a log cabin the Missouri Ozarks. I really knew no one, which was fine, as my goal was to start fresh in a spot that allowed me the piece and quiet to advocate form a location where I felt comfortable.

Shortly moving into my log cabin in a town of 4,000 with my new autism service dog, Tye, just a couple of miles from two lakes and a vast forest, I met someone named Josh. Josh was a fellow writer and ran a creative group for painters, artists of all kinds, crafters, and yes, even writers.

I joined Josh’s group as a way to meet people, even though my social anxiety was kicking into hyperdrive. Josh and I also became friends on a personal level and regularly hung out outside of group meetings. We talked about our personal lives, and about my autism, depression, and anxiety.

Less than six months into our friendship, I received a message that Josh wanted to meet at our favorite local coffee joint. I thought nothing of it until he handed me multiple sheets of paper outlining in great detail why I could no longer be a part of his social group or be his friend. To say I was taken aback and stunned was a huge understatement.

As time passed, I’ve shown the list to a psychiatrist and two psychologist and all have agreed that everything on the list is an autistic trait of mine, or just plain asinine. I also found out from several trusted friends that he was talking behind my back making fun of me and making autism jokes. That part I can’t verify, but have no reason to doubt the sources, so take that as you will.

After the meeting finished, Josh made it clear, without using direct words, that the two places we regularly hung out were his and that I was to stay away. Sounds like someone thinks quite highly of himself.

My atrocities, were dated and had the location noted, making it was quite obvious that he was looking for a way to make me feel bad and that he had been planning this for a while. Please note the pettiness, and sheer bullshit in the reasons he gave for not being able to continue being a friend to someone on the spectrum.

Complained about a 750-word count for a writing contest.It wasn’t complaining, I asked if we could go up to 1,000 words. He said no and I dropped it

Introduced J.R. at an event (and told everyone what was going on in my life both personally and professionally). He then asked me to tell people what I was working on, and I responded: There’s nothing else to share because you already dd, including things that were told to you in confidence. Was told I was ungrateful and that I disrespected and embarrassed him. Are you sure it wasn’t me that he embarrassed and disrespected?

Sharing at these social events was optional, and because on two occasions I didn’t feel like talking (as many on the spectrum are apt to do), I was branded not willing to be part of the group and received 15-minute lectures, very loudly in front of the 20 or so who were in attendance. So, he publicly shamed me. This was far from the first time that happened.

While sitting in the back of the room, I couldn’t hear the person speaking, politely raised my hand, and asked if she could speak louder. This embarrassed him and I received another public, verbal beat down.

The day after the Parkland shooting, I was in a grocery store parking lot when a woman asked me what my service dog was for. I told her he’s an autism service dog. At that point she started going off on me, demanding to know what it was about “you people” and your fascination with mass shootings and guns. Many lawyers for the mass shooters almost always play the autistic card, which later gets proven wrong, but not until the damage is done.

Later that evening I got together with Josh and several others and I shared the story. He became enraged and demanded to know why I called her ignorant and walked away. I did because she was. He went on to yell at me that it was possible he knew this woman and that my association with him could have negative repercussions on his life simply for knowing me. (Narcissist much?) I thought that was ridiculous and left, utterly embarrassed for being made to feel it was wrong for standing u for myself.

The last nail in the coffin came the day after our meeting where I was handed my list of crimes against humanity. When I ht him up on Facebook Messenger. Here is what I wrote.

Josh, I’m still reeling from yesterday, but with all the things you said about me, I have no interest in being your friend. Seeing as how we live in a community of 4,000, I was hoping we could meet for coffee and devise a plan where things aren’t awkward when/if we run into each other. Please let me know when you’re available.

His reply?

J.R. we will not be meeting for coffee and if you ever speak to me again or attempt to contact me again, I will be “forced” to reveal the things you told me in confidence about your autism, anxiety, depression and feelings to the entire town. Leave me alone.

Forced? Seriously?

Here I was trying to extend an olive branch, and I ended up getting kicked in the sack. For the next two years, I barely left my house, avoided the two places I knew he regularly hung out, and basically gave in to the bully. This is NOT the proper way to handle the situation, but it’s what I did.

After all this, and many other similar instances, occurred, I apparently (according to him) went to my blog and wrote a post titled, Autistics are Victims”. I did not write such a post or anything similar. When asked to produce proof of the blog post, I was told that I was a bitter liar and he didn’t have to prove anything.

This is just one example of a friend that I’ve lost. I am by no means trying to imply, “woe is me” or anything like it, because I know that we all have our stories. I also know that many, many of those stories are way worse than mine.

This isn’t a competition, but rather a way to show others that they’re not alone in their struggles with neurotypicals who are completely ignorant to our feelings. I would love to hear your stories if you’re willing to share them.

You see, people like this pretend to be your friend, but when they get tired of your autistic traits/quirks/oddities they toss you to the trash like last week’s shrimp pad thai. That’s because they were never really your friend; just some piece of garbage who is really, good at pretending to be someone they aren’t.

Always remember to be your true authentic self and don’t feel the need to mask who you really are. You are NOT a broken neurotypical. You’re a perfectly formed autistic person, and you’re beautiful just the way you are.

I can’t tell you that life will be all roses and sunshine, because just like everyone on this planet, we have our ups and downs. Look at these people for what they are—losers who are afraid of you and your gifts. If something like this happens to you, find a trusted friend you can talk to about this. If you have no one, use the contact form here and talk to me. I’ll listen and give you whatever advice I can.

Don’t forget to share your stories because they encourage others and remind them that they’re not alone.

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