Autism StereoTypes and the Damage they Do to Autistic People

Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on November 15, 2021. The video’s public release will be January 12, 2021.


Hey humans. Welcome back. This is Lyric and I’m talking about stereotypes this week.

A stereotype is a widely held, but fixed and oversimplified image or idea, of a particular type of person or thing. This week I’m going to be talking more about how stereotypes impact Autistic and NeuroDivergent People.

If you would like to know more, please stay tuned.

As a NeuroDivergent Person, I feel that stereotypes prevent other people from being able to understand me as a living, breathing, human being; because it means that people are looking at me and then, because of their limited understanding, or stereotypical knowledge of my labels: Autistic ADHD, and some other stereotypes that can come with being queer, for example, there are stereotypes. People sometimes will only see the stereotypes, and they don’t see the person and this is a problem.

One way these stereotypes have hurt me, as an Autistic Person is, whenever I try to disclose or share that I’m Autistic, NeuroDivergent, that I’ve got ADHD, any of these things, because the stereotypes about these different ways our brains can process information are so prevalent in society, and I am not a stereotype… people are not able to see me in these differences, when I’m trying to share.

For example, I may say “I’m Autistic” and they may say, “oh wow. Really? I – I don’t believe you. You don’t look Autistic to me.” Or, “I knew a kid who was Autistic, and you’re nothing like them.” Or I say, “I’ve got ADHD” and they’re like, “oh, well, that’s, that’s really over-diagnosed, you know? ADHD – are you sure you’ve got ADHD?” people are really quick to invalidate my experience, because they only know a stereotype.

That’s one way the stereotypes have been harmful to me, personally. I would like to ask really quickly now, if anyone else, who’s watching right now, drop a comment if you’ve experienced similar treatment from other people.

When you’re trying to say, “Hey, I’m Autistic.” “Hey, I’ve got ADHD.” “Hey, I’m dyslexic.” – Whatever your particular NeuroTypes are, how do people react when you try to share?

Does it go smoothly? Because I’m just trying to share some information about myself that I hope, if you really understood what autism, and ADHD, and my NeuroTypes were you’d understand me a lot better… but, because I’m sharing this about myself and people don’t understand those neurological differences and NeuroTypes people understand me even less, because they have this picture in their head of what “autism looks like”, air quotes, and I don’t match it.

When people hear the word autism often they think young, white male child, or white male, CIS straight guy, who has some kind of really awesome superhuman skill, talent, or ability, or they think of someone who loves trains, and is really good at math.

Okay, I like trains a little I’ll admit it, but I am not the math kind of Autistic. I’m an Autistic who’s a bit more, uh, skilled in the area of art, and music, and those kinds of creative things.

They’re also Autistic People, just like non-Autistic people, who don’t have any particularly special skills, but these stereotypes harm all of us, because another thing that Autistic people may hear, when we are sharing that we are Autistic with non-Autistic people is, “oh, well, what is your special talent or skill?”

What are you?- real? What is?, what is your?-

“What is your super power?”

It’s expected that we are either completely struggling, and have no skills, or we are super humans, which is a horrible expectation it is really unfair to expect us to be superhuman.

We’re people, we’re humans, and our skill levels in different things, are all across the human skill spectrum, just like with non-Autistic people.

I want to go back to the CIS, straight, white boy stereotype, the Good Doctor, so many other shows that right now, for some reason, I can’t bring the top of my head… Rain Man. Autistic people, if you look at us, that is not a good representation of who we are.

We are all genders, all skin colors, all backgrounds, all ages, different strengths, different weaknesses. Some of us need more help than others, with certain things. Some of us are fairly self-sufficient, but a lot of us are just very well supported.

We’re not a monolith, at all, and people have this very narrow, preconceived idea of what Autistic people can be, and because of that, it erases those of us who don’t fit that very narrow stereotype.

If anything, there are more Autistic, Queer people than Autistic straight people, so we really need to put that stereotype to bed. I’m tired of it.

I want to ask you what stereotypes you have seen or heard or are annoyed with, around Autistic People, and the Autistic experience.

Another one I see, that’s really a common stereotype is that Autistic People are either cold, emotionless, and unempathetic, or that we are over the top, overly emotional, and overly empathetic, and though some of us may fit into these categories, the reality is Autistic People range the full empathy, emotional spectrum, just like non-Autistic people.

However, because some Autistic People, myself included report having a more intense sensory and emotional experience, many of us also experience empathy in a very intense way.

This is not every Autistic Person, I’m just going to say that again, because we don’t want to make more stereotypes.

I experienced empathy in a very intense way, so intense that it becomes too much, and I can just completely disconnect and shut off, and shut down, which also appears, on the outside, as if I am very un-empathetic, because I have just imploded on myself, because I can’t handle all of the feelings, and to the outside world become very cold. A lot of these stereotypes also come from misunderstandings.

Another autistic stereotype, that I actually fit again, but this is a stereotype, is that “all Autistic People are these loners that just want to sit alone all day and we just want to do our special interests all day, and would be pretty content being left alone, never to talk to other human beings.

I fit this. I fit the stereotype, but this is not every Autistic Person, at all.

I know lots of Autistic people who do not fit this stereotype, and even myself, reflecting on my life, I used to be a lot more outgoing I used to be a lot more social. I used to have a lot more “friends”, air-quotes friends, but then I realized, unfortunately, a lot of people were being fake nice to me. They didn’t really like me. They were acting like they liked me, and I didn’t understand that people would, or could do that, or why people would do that. I thought if people told me they “were my friend and that they liked me”, they must be my friend, and they must really like me.

I didn’t figure out that this isn’t true until I was in my early twenties, and that was really painful. The other thing that was really painful was realizing how little defense I had against this kind of manipulative behavior and that I don’t realize when people are doing this to me, a lot of times, even now.

Since discovering that, my friend’s circle has shrunk dramatically, because I have so much anxiety, and I feel so vulnerable, and afraid to even engage with new people. Because my experience, engaging with new people, and engaging with people, for the most part, has not been good, and has been a bit traumatic, because of not being able to read people’s true intentions, and taking people for what they say very directly, and thinking people mean exactly what they say, and not realizing that there are all these expectations that are unsaid and nonverbal signals and cues, that I just didn’t even know to look for, because I didn’t know I was Autistic. I didn’t know they were NeuroTypical.

I didn’t know- I didn’t know anything about myself, really, until I was almost 30. All of that, all of those things, and stereotypes have an impact. I didn’t find out I was Autistic until I was almost 30, because of Autistic stereotypes.

I had heard of autism before, but I only understood the stereotypes. It wasn’t until I started to hear Autistic stories, told by Autistic People, and stopped reading NeuroTypical stories about Autistic People, that I understood what being Autistic really even means, and what that meant to me, specifically.

It was the same exact thing with ADHD. I didn’t start to understand that I might also have ADHD, until I started reading, and relating to, the experiences of other people with ADHD.

 Then I went and got diagnosed. It was pretty quick and simple.

 It had been suggested to me that I had ADHD in elementary school… I’m not going to say. It’s been a lot of years ago. Uh, but a long time ago it had been suggested, that I had ADHD by medical professionals and teachers; but because of everything being so stereotyped, and stigmatized, that was something that pushed away.

 That stereotypical medical language, that is only talking about the worst parts, perceived worst parts, how much you annoy other people around you, basically.

 It’s not a healthy way to look at yourself.

All right, humans, I could go on and on with this topic, let me know if you want me to talk more about this in the future.

 If you thought of any stereotypes, please share them, share why you think they’re harmful, and why you dislike stereotypes.

What’s your least favorite stereotype? Which one do you think is the most damaging to Autistic people? Drop, drop a comment below, so we can keep this conversation going.

I appreciate each and every one of you, especially those of you who are dropping comments, who are dropping suggestions, who are asking questions; because you inspire me on what videos, and what topics to cover. So thank you so much for that.

Also, thanks to the Patreon subscribers, Facebook supporters, and the YouTube channel members, that do that little bit of monetary subscription.

On Patreon, it’s little as a dollar a month, less than $12 a year, if you subscribe annually, it does give you a discount.

 Just as a thank you early access to videos, like this one, usually about a month in advance, also sneak, peeks, and behind the scenes clips of my day-to-day life, a lot of weekend stuff. Stuff that’s kind of fun and casual on Patreon lens; which is a bit like Instagram Stories, that vanish every 24 hours.

It’s just a bit of a thank you to those of you are helping me to elevate the quality of the content on this channel. I could not do it without each and every single one of you who views, whether you are watching videos, sharing videos, or subscribing monetarily, I am equally grateful that you are here, and you are a part of this community.

I will see you all next Wednesday. Bye .


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