Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on December 20, 2021. The video’s public release will be February 9, 2022.
Unfortunately, sometimes as Autistic People, things that we do or when people hear or find out we are Autistic, cause us to be infantilized by people around us.
I wanted to talk more about that, and my personal experience with what that is like. So if you want to learn more, hear more, please do stay tuned.
I think one of the most gross experiences I had with being infantilized as an Autistic Person, specifically, because someone thought knew I was Autistic was once when I was traveling in an airport, when I was new to traveling.
Uh, and if you’ve not been in an airport, they tend to be very loud, big echo-y buildings, with lots of competing noise going on. They’re kind of hard to navigate, because it all looks the same. It’s a new space, so for me that is difficult, as an Autistic Person – that is one of my personal difficulties, struggling in new environments and new places, with new situation.
So I was traveling and learning to travel on my own through airports across the country, which was difficult for me.
I was asking for help on how to find this flight I needed to get to at the desk and the guy behind the counter was getting very snippy with me and impatient, and I stopped. I said, “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be different. I am Autistic and I am struggling to hear what’s going on in this environment. I, I can’t understand what you’re saying right now”, and just trying to get him to help me, because he was annoyed that I was asking too many questions about where I needed to go, but I couldn’t hear him, so I was having trouble understanding, and the minute I told him I was Autistic, he then began to literally talk to me, like I was a two year old child.
He did then guide me to my gate, and it was very like he was guiding a lost child… from then on, he did not speak to me like I was an adult and it was really just like, “oh my gosh, this is gross… uh, but I don’t have time to be upset about this right now” and honestly, I was just so shocked that this happened, that I didn’t have words after that.
I’m just like, “oh my gosh, it’s this, it’s this real life? Is this a prank show I’m on right now? Is this really happening? Is he really talking to me like I I’m a child, all of a sudden?”
Which… talking down to children is something that I’m not a big fan of anyway, honestly. Um, but I hadn’t had somebody talk to me like that since I was a child. So it was just like, “oh, what happened?” it was just really, really weird, situation. Like “why?” Don’t do.
So that’s, uh, one infantilization story. Uh, other ways autistic people can be infantilized, for example, I have a few stuffed animals.
Case in point, this guy
Soft and fuzzy.
It was a gift my partner won me in a carnival, and I love it because it is…. it makes this fantastic sound when you crinkle it.
Uh, it’s also very, very, very soft, though it’s getting less soft the more I pet it. It’s basically a giant sensory seeking item.
Because it is the shape of a giant stuffed animal, I’ve put a picture up of this, and people were talking about how it was childish or saying it was inappropriate, for an adult to have a stuffed toy.
Most people were actually mostly very supportive. It was only a few people saying things like that, but that’s because I kind of have a set the tone for my page, for what’s acceptable behavior for kindness, but outside of my page, where people shared it, the response wasn’t as good.
It’s like how many adults do you know that still have their childhood stuffed toys on their bed, or somewhere, because they didn’t put them away. May be, maybe you’re ashamed that you have your stuffed toy, but if I’m having a hard day, or I just need to work and get something done, I’ll bring this out, and I will hold it while I’m working, and it’s nice and comforting and I’m not ashamed of it… and that does not make me childish.
Lots of adults have stuffed toys; and this one is awesome, and actually kind of matches my hair… and it makes me happy. So I don’t really care what people say…
I love this stuffed dog and I have a matching bird somewhere too, but, um… I don’t know where it is right now.
In fact, I’ve still got my childhood toys also, although these have been put up in a safe place, because they’re very old now, and I don’t want them to fall apart… but I’ve got a whole bucket of Popples and Care Bears from the 1980s and 1990s, that I can’t get rid of, and that doesn’t mean I’m a child. It just means I’m a little bit sentimental. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Other things that I have been infantilized for would include being excited about little things, that other people around me don’t find excited. Then people are often quick to tell me I “shouldn’t be jumping up and down” or really “excited about something that’s small”.
People are really quick to want to crush my joy, telling me that I need to grow up and calm down and, and implying the adults don’t get excited over little things… which, if that’s true, that’s really sad for a lot of you, because that is not my experience… and the fact that you would like for me to hide my genuine joy and excitement is concerning to me.
You know, what I think is possibly the most ironic part of being infantilized, repeatedly, as an adult -being constantly told that I am childish, for basically being Autistic, is that, when I was a child, often, it was the opposite; where people projected adulthood onto me, before I was ready, because of my vocabulary and the way I spoke. Um, the, the old soul child.
I saw a meme recently that said, “where you really an old soul as a child, or were you just a child that had really debilitating anxiety?” Ooh, ouch. I feel a bit seen here. Way to call me out like that. I wasn’t ready for that one.
Yeah… a child with debilitating anxiety, that was thought of as being wise beyond their years, because I was worried about everything around me. There we go. Mm.
All right, everyone, if you are still here, thank you for hanging out for the entire video. Hopefully that means you enjoyed my company enough to subscribe, and hopefully stick around for more videos, because I put out new videos each and every single Wednesday. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, uh, TikTok. I’m all over social media, so I invite you to connect with me on those other platforms as well.
If you found this video somewhat useful, hit that share button, cause hopefully someone else will find it useful too. If you, yourself, have experienced being infantilized as an Autistic, or even as a NeuroDivergent huma… because there are definitely ways that I’ve been infantilized for my ADHD traits as well… which that could be an entire separate video.
Let let me know in the comments below, if you’ve experienced any of this, or if you want to see a video talking about being infantilized because of showing traits of ADHD.
Thank you all, who give me video suggestions, because I like to have a lot of video suggestions to choose from. So please do drop your video suggestions in the comments, so that I can add those to the que.
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All of you are a huge part of what makes this blog and all of this content possible. I couldn’t do it without you, and that’s ALL of you; whether you were monetarily subscribing or not… commenting and sharing your feedback, that is helpful. Sharing my videos is helpful. All of that I’m grateful for. So however you are helping, in whatever capacity you are here, even if it’s just with your wonderful presence, thank you for being a part of my world.
I will talk to you next week. Bye!
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With gratitude, – Lyric
One thought on “Autism & Infantilization – My Experience with Autistic Infantilization”
I was born in 1960 to a normal middle class family. My father had anger issues and my being autistic caused him to be angry at me. My Mom worked with me to train me to stop acting like an autistic person and to act like others in the family. What message I got from this was that I was wrong and broken and needed to be fixed. It began a lifetime of self-hate and destruction of me thru drinking. I am finally coming to terms with this at 61 years old. I of course was bullied in school and made fun of. I also was hated by my brother and brutalized by him as a child. That trauma was just some of the issues I am learning to deal with. Because I was autistic I was able to dissociate to deal with living with my abuser. But the memories and the intense emotions are just now bleeding thru into my life after my wife who protected me and helped me for 31+ years passed away leaving me vunerable once more. So as you can imagine I have strong feeling about what autistic kids go thru when people try to make them neuro-typical…….