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PhD Student Lashes Out After Autistic Aquaintance Refuses To Stop ‘Correcting’ Her

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Everyone likes to think they’re an expert on something.

But there are only a select few who have genuinely earned the title of expert, comprehensively studying a specific field and developing a vast knowledge about it.

What arguably separates a true expert from a wannabe expert, is that a true expert will also willingly admit when they’re wrong or they’ve made a mistake.

Something the truly obstinate seldom, if ever, do.

Redditor shutupmateaita was inching close to becoming an expert in her given field, with some likely believing she had already achieved that status.

Save for a friend of one of the original poster (OP)’s pupil’s, who made a point of correcting a large amount of her work.

Something which quickly grew tiresome for the original poster (OP), and which she had no trouble telling this individual, in spite of his medical condition.

Worried that she may have been insensitive, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**Hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling a guy with autism off because he wouldn’t stop talking about something he knows nothing about?”

The OP explained how she quickly grew tired of a man “correcting” her in her field of study, and didn’t let his condition stop her from telling him off.

“I (29 F[emale]) am three years into my PhD.”

“I have published many papers and been a co author of even more.”

“I’ve done field studies and teach at a uni.”

“Basically, I know my field.”

“I speak a few languages and teach a group of people outside of work.”

” We meet up once a week and talk in that language.”

“We are all friends and it’s very casual.”

“Last week one person of the group asked if they could bring a mate (K) from work who’s interested in the language too.”

“She said that her mate is on the spectrum and that he might not know when to stop talking.”

“I said bring him along and we’ll see how he fits in.”

“The actual lesson went well and I think we were all happy.”

“Usually some people stick around for a bit after and we just have a few drinks.”

“This is when it started.”

“As it turns out K is interested in my field of study.”

“He asked me some questions and I was happy to answer.”

“But then it started getting weird.”

“He kept arguing with me and ‘correcting’ me, telling me what I apparently misunderstood and so on.”

“It was quite awkward and my other friends tried to gently let him know that he was probably out of line.”

“He kept asking me about my opinion on studies and papers but in an aggressive almost questioning way.”

“The last straw was when he told me that I misinterpreted the findings of a study that I was a co author of.”

“I was sick of it and said ‘listen buddy, I know you think that you know everything about this field but if you had actually bothered to read who “et al” is then you’d know that I wrote this f*cking paper so please just shut up’.’

“Not my proudest moment, I admit, but at this point he’d been trying to ‘beat me’ for over 30 minutes.”

“He left after that but later messaged me that he’d inform my uni of my discriminatory behavior towards people with autism.”

“Now I’m wondering if I went too far.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for calling out ‘K’ for constantly correcting her.

Everyone agreed that the K’s autism wasn’t to blame for his rude behavior, which they agreed the OP had every right to call him out on.



“He’s using autism as a shield against his bad behavior.”- VirtualEconomy


“Definitely NTA.”

“How can he have read the papers and said you misinterpreted the findings when you helped make the conclusions?”

“Some people need a reality check.”

“Also out of curiosity, what subject was it?.”- ajlyall

“As someone who has a relative with low-functioning autism, I am so fed up with high-functioning people using autism as an excuse to be d*ckholes.”

“If you’re high-functioning enough to be out and about having drinks with people you just met and arguing with them over their own field of expertise, you’re high-functioning enough to keep your a** in line or at least not complain when you’re told to sit down and shut up.”- Ioa_3k


“Have the group/witnesses write down their version of what happened.”

“If he truly wants to actually ‘report’ you to your uni then you’re gonna need some backup.”

“He’s the major AH if he has to go tattle on you for a disagreement he was pushing for.”

“The group even said he was out of line.”

“They should know that their teacher/friend possibly will be getting in trouble because they invited him.”- syphone


“Everyone has a finite amount of patience.”- blipblip123


“He might be on the spectrum but people with autism can be really high functioning and it’s not a one case fits all.”

“As a rule of thumb, unless your talking severe cases, most people with autism can have rational and reasonable conversations about topics their passionate about.”

“Don’t mind my saying but I know people without autism that seem to think they know a lot more than they do.”

“Maybe I’m wrong but I think this has more to do with his personality than autism alone?”

“Either way NTA because at the end of the day, when speaking to a professional, don’t offer your two bit advise and expect it to have any real relevance unless you can justify it.”

“Especially don’t disagree with the experts just for the sake of conversation.”- nazmattics

“In any event, NTA.”

“Oh and for reference I’m a woman with ASD.”

“ASD can make it harder to understand social cues.”

“This is not that.”

“If he’s able to debate linguistics, he’s perfectly capable of understanding when he’s explicitly told to cut it out.”- not_really_an_elf


“I’m sick of people using their disabilities as excuses to berate and belittle and even abuse people.”

“We need to stop letting people with intellectual or mental health disorders think they can do what they want because of it.”

“As someone with two mental health disorders, I have never used them as an excuse for my behavior.”

“I own up to my mess ups.”- Educational_Mind9734


“Another PhD here.”

“Yea, that happens even more nowadays.”

“It is extremely irritating, unfortunately I’ve just had let it go.”

“I don’t have any time or the will to correct anybody, the Dunning-Kruger effect is just too strong nowadays.”- BisquickNinja


“If you were at work I would have said that your swearing was out of order but not your correction. Since you were among friends the swearing was fine.”

“Telling someone they don’t know what they are talking about is not discriminatory.”

“You didn’t say he was ignorant because he is autistic, you simply said he was ignorant because he was ignorant.”

“Given that he has made a threat to go to your University I would advise you to approach your PhD supervisor or teaching manager and give them a heads’ up.”– GlencoraPalliser


“Okay as a person on the spectrum let me explain something.”

“Someone talking about a special interest: over enthusiastic, wants group participation, is willing to listen about other’s opinions but may interject excitedly.”

“Mansplaining: what this dude did.”

“Being argumentative and dismissive.”

“Claiming he knows more than someone with actual degrees in the subject.”

“It’s unfortunate that this dude’s autism and clear misogyny swirl together in the most perfect storm formation of an a**hole.”- Alternative-Ad5925

“As an autistic woman I’d say NTA.”

“Just a bit of background information, autistic people often sound ‘rude’ and like they’re antagonizing you.”

“We can’t always control our voice and we like to play devil’s advocate to explore different ideas.”

“A lot of autistic people take things at face value, we care about the topic and often forget about the social implications of our words.”

“We give monologues about things we’re interested in not to show off but to share our excitement.”

“And we get rejected a lot, so can be sensitive.”

“That said, this guy sounds like an a**hole.”

“Autism and a**holery aren’t mutually exclusive.”

“It’s good to be direct with autistics, but maybe in a less aggressive way, as they might not have been aware of how they come across.”- jam_jj_


“As an autistic person I know we can come off as pedantic and stubborn when it comes to our interests, but it’s no excuse to be an a**hole and definitely no excuse to call someone who corrects us as ‘ableist’ or discriminatory.”- wolvster

There are some people who genuinely don’t have a filter, and might not be aware if they are saying or doing something rude or inappropriate.

Even so, these same people must still be told when they are behaving out of line, just as the OP did to K.

Even if the OP could have been a little more tactful.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.