Written by:
September 3, 2019

10 autistics in a room

Last updated on February 23, 2021

Today is a(n arbitrarily) special day, as we are publishing our 100th article!

To celebrate it, we have a real treat for you! That is, if you enjoy a post that doesn’t really have a point, features barely any research, and is only superficially informative.

Okay, I am not selling this well. What this actually is, is a thought experiment of sorts; what would happen if you put 10 autistics in various rooms? Would they interact? Would they repel each other? Would they take a handful of mash potatoes which they kept in their pants pockets for comfort (I swear every autistic does this) and sling it at each other?

An illustration of a tiny room featuring a bookcase and a window, and a text balloon stating, “This room is way too tiny, but at least there are awesome books to read!”

This post is based on an actual—and presumably genuine—question asked on Quora in 2017:

What would happen if we put a group
of autistic people in a room together?


Answer

What kind of room though? There are so many to consider. And I’ve heard that autistic people tend to be fans of rooms, so you are likely to encounter some of us in virtually any room imaginable. Let’s explore some of those!

10 autistic people in a toilet stall

We would be highly irritable. We might scream. At least one of us might cry. How did the ten of us get in there in the first place? It’s so cramped…

10 autistic people in a broom closet

Ten people? I think we might all die of asphyxiation, if not being crushed to death.

10 autistic people in a spear closet

Such an incredibly small space for ten people. I mean, is it okay to have ten dead autistics in a “left over” space that cannot be put to practical use? On the other hand, if you can store ten crushed autistics in this space, how is that not a practical use of your space?

10 autistic people in a garret

I guess in a way this room looks autistic. But again, why are you trying to fit ten autistics in such a small space? I don’t see the practicality nor the humor in this. I feel you’re not taking the question seriously, either. (Not taking it seriously? Have you seen the length of this answer? What an autistic answer again.)

10 autistic people in a prison cell

We would probably be irritable again. We might talk to waste time. We will find common ground and share our interests. We should, because presumably, we’re going to be there for a while…

10 autistic people in a bar

This seems like a set-up for a joke. I’ve never actually heard of an autistic bar. I’ve been to a transgender bar though, so I’m quite sure there are autistic bars. Not that we require an autistic bar; any bar could be good for ten of us. As long as the music is not too loud, I think quite a few of us wouldn’t mind being there. An ontological question arises though: does a bar with ten autistic people become an autistic bar due to the high prevalence of autistics? That’s more or less how it seems to work with gay bars.

10 autistic people in a room in the Cube

“How did we get here? Who are you people?” In the movie, one of the characters happens to be an autistic savant. While the prevalence of savants among non-autistics is estimated to be 1%, among autistics the prevalence is estimated to be 10–28.5%.[1]Savant skills in autism: psychometric approaches and parental reports[2]The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition. A synopsis: past, present, future So statistically it could be likely for there to be one savant among us. Let’s hope then he is a mathematical genius who can figure out the system of the rooms and mentally calculate prime factorizations for us. Any other savant skills—like, say, extraordinary musical abilities—and we are totally fucked.

10 autistic people in a waiting room

Would we even realize any of us is autistic? We would wait for our turns, and then go to the next room. That’s the whole story.

10 autistic people in a cinema auditorium

I’m just focused on the movie. I don’t care to be observing others, and I can’t recognize autism by appearance—especially not in the dark.

10 autistic people in the office

Is there anything particularly exciting about this? Well, the prospect of a lack of pressure to socialize does excite me. This might be an office at Auticon.[3]The firm whose staff are all autistic | BBC

10 autistic people in a staffroom

Are all teachers autistic, or does there just happen to be 10 of us? What kind of school is this?

10 autistic people in a frigidarium

Ten autistics in one pool? That’s too crowded for comfort. I frigidare you to touch me! And raise the temperature! It’s friggin’ cold.

10 autistic people in a ballroom

I don’t think any of us would necessarily feel like being here, although, many ballrooms I have seen look quite amazing. We would likely be captivated by the details and aesthetics of the architecture, decoration and furniture. We might engage in conversation. I will probably find someone to talk to about the universe. “So, did you hear about the universe?”

10 autistic people in the equatorial room of the W. M. Keck Observatory

I can barely care about the other nine people, because being in one of these domes is going to completely captivate me! Okay, I will probably talk to the others during the day. At night though, “Shut the fuck up! I’m observing stars here!”

10 autistic people in the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center

I don’t know why I’m here. I study graphic design. But this is awesome! Let me watch over your shoulder, Mr. Kraft Jr.!

10 autistic people in a dining room

As long as we’re getting food, I understand why we’re here. No talking necessary during dinner, but I will happily oblige if you have something interesting to say. “So, did you hear about the multiverse?”

10 autistic people in a garage

I don’t know what you guys are going to do, but I’m gone. I don’t need to be here.

10 autistic people in a count room

I guess some of us will be at our place here—dealing with numbers. To me, it’s not the most amazing experience, but if I’m getting paid for it, I don’t mind stacking coins.

10 autistic people in a cry room

A cry room? But I don’t feel like crying. Don’t you have a neutral room? (taking things too literally)

10 autistic people in a conversation pit

I guess we will converse?

10 autistic people in a chashitsu

I think we will all have a chuckle—while enjoying a cup of tea—about the fact that the name of this room sounds like you soiled your pants after a sneeze.

10 autistic people in a shoin

Show me your groin! Ahh forget it; go back to your study.

10 autistic people in a man cave

I guess there are plenty of recreational activities to do. But why a gender-specific room? Considering we are here, let’s deem this to be a gender-neutral autistic cave and find ways to entertain ourselves.

10 autistic people in a lactation room

This makes me highly uncomfortable. Ever wondered what autistic milk tastes like though?

10 autistic people in an emergency room

We can’t help but observe the injuries of other people with curiosity. Some of us might talk, but probably not.

  • Person: “Why are you here?”
  • Me: “I’m autistic. That is a medical emergency, right?”
10 autistic people in a community health clinic

Would it unsettle the parents if the ten of us would keenly watch while their kids get vaccinated? I would exclaim, “Woooo I am the Ghost of Autistic Future! You have been claimed!” and then run off with a loud cackle.

10 autistic people in a padded cell

We are not mentally ill! I have no complaints about soft walls though. As long as the thread count of the fabric is sufficient.

10 autistic people in a psychomanteum

This room is way too small. Please don’t touch me! I know this room’s function is to communicate with the dead, but your physicality creeps me out more than the dead would in whatever form.

10 autistic people in an execution chamber

Just for being autistic? Are you not being too dramatic?

10 autistic people in an aerary

We are a true treasure. But what the hell is the monetary value of ten autistics?


That’s 30 rooms covered. I figured I would spare you the other 70 rooms, but let me know if you have more suggestions. I may just gather Natalie and eight autistic friends, visit the suggested room, and write an extensive collaborative review detailing our experiences.

PS: To make all of this properly scientific, let’s stand in various rooms, after which we let a neurotypical control group do the same. At the end of the day, we compare results. Are there any volunteers?

This article
was written by:
martin-silvertant

Co-founder of Embrace Autism, I’m living up to my surname as a silver award-winning graphic designer. Besides running Embrace Autism and researching autism, I love typography and practice type design. I also fight dodecahedragons during sleep onset.

I discovered I’m autistic when I was 19, and was diagnosed at 25.

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