Why autistic people are big on rules

It’s a variation of the “freeze” response to confusion and danger.

A recruit was standing on a roof at Parris Island in the burning sun at parade rest. His DI had put him there to work on the roof and somehow had forgotten him. A passing sergeant noticed, stared curiously for a second, and bellowed, “Git down from there, prive.”

The private didn’t move.

“Goddamit, git down here,” bawled the instructor, unused to being ignored.

Nothing. The private looked deeply unhappy, but didn’t so much as twitch.

Another DI came along and yelled, but nothing moved the recruit. He gazed desperately ahead, either deaf or crazed by the sun. A group formed on the sidewalk, including a warrant officer, a lieutenant, and, finally, a passing light colonel.

The colonel snapped his crispest order. The private stared ahead. The crowd conferred, decided they had a mental case on their hands and prepared to send for a struggle buggy and some big corpsmen. Then the private’s DI returned.

“Jaworski, Ten-hut! Git your butt down from there.”

Down came Jaworski. From parade rest, you see, the only acceptable order is “attention”. The manual of arms says so.

“You see,” a drill instructor explained to me, “a recruit’s in a place he doesn’t understand at all, and nothing ever works for him. Back home, he knows the rules. Maybe he’s a big dude on the block, got it made. Not here. Everybody’s yelling at him and he can’t ever do anything right.

“So he figures he’ll do exactly what he’s told. It’s his way of protecting himself. If something goes wrong, he thinks at least it’s not his fault. This is what a drill instructor’s got to learn — nothing’s too crazy for a recruit to do if he thinks it’s what you told him. And you really got to think about it. Otherwise you can get him hurt.

Fred Reed
The Marine Corps, 1966: Not Too Many Snowflakes

Yes, I’m aware the recruit in the story was probably not autistic. What I mean is that this situation is analogous to the way aspies feel in a world full of vindictive, angry people who don’t make any sense. Pain is the universal language, so that’s why we’re all familiar with typical fear responses.


About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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7 Responses to Why autistic people are big on rules

  1. MM says:

    less emotional understanding=more confusion= follow rules closely to minimize it
    makes sense

  2. In Popski’s Private Army they were quite democratic I was told. From what I’ve learned it sounded like it was an Owl melon/MT/TT breakaway faction. They were all very civilised actually, when it came down to the real shit everyone got to have their say regardless of rank.

    I think as things get manifestly crazier the spies are going to cohere in Phalanxes and be able to be islands of sanity. It’s actually a great opportunity to secede, stop being the house bitch and start charging the real price for services under real leadership. If people want to get shit done in chaos it’s going to cost land, tenure and women straight up sorry.

  3. Santoculto says:

    Or because sensorial hypersensitivity autistics tend to search for ways to establish a minimal level of stability for themselves and build fixed or expected routines it’s a good one.

  4. Alt Right Footsoldier says:

    Everyone following rules is how societies build, safe and stable civilizations.

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