What is it? It’s games that people play with each other when they operate within a social hierarchy. People who operate and support a social hierarchy will start playing these games as young kids.
Autistics, when we are not masking, don’t really operate within a social heirarchy. Our social structure is more equal, we see everyone as equal to ourselves and each other. This is why many of us are perceived to have issues with authority or conforming. In reality, we don’t really, it’s that our culture operates differently to the social hierarchy and so we behave according to our beautiful culture.
How do we explain power plays and all of this to our kids?
Here’s an example from my new book, coming out soon called “Standing Up for Myself”, a book for Neuordivergent kids and teens.
“Sometimes people will play games. They might call you a name or something like that. They are doing this to get a reaction. It’s a type of power play. You might try to think of a smart name to call them back or some clever response. Sometimes this can work but other times it can mean that you are playing a different game to them. We might think that it’s a game of smarts but really it’s often a game where they are seeing if they can make you respond to them. That’s the game for them. So no matter how clever your retort is it means you lose the power play game because responding to them means that they won.
It’s strange I know and very confusing and it makes very little sense to me too! I explained this to my daughter and together we came up with a plan for this sort of game.
We call it ICD
(The defeat bit was her idea!)
Ignore means that we don’t bother paying attention to the words they say. That is hard for us to do when we communicate literally and words are really important to us. But it’s good to realise that words are not as important to some other people. So try to ignore the words and see the power play for what it is.
Confuse means don’t respond in an expected way. It’s good to be unpredictable sometimes! So for example, if someone calls you a not so nice name you could confuse them by responding with “What are you doing on saturday?” Or basically anything that they would not expect because they are expecting you to defend yourself.
Defeat, well defeat means that you have not been drawn into a power game that you don’t really understand and has absolutely no purpose for you because you prefer to treat people as equal. “