Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on Feb 14, 2022. The video’s public release will be April 20, 2022 – over 2 months early!
ID: Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary person with short green hair with green and teal hair, with purple accents is sitting behind a white microphone in an RV with dark wood panel walls. Today they have thick asymmetrical eyeliner and a black top. The words Nobody Talks About Autistic Success floats in front of them in yellow and green letters.
Hey, internet Lyric here.
Autistic people are so defined, especially by the medical industry, by our struggles, pains, deficits, and the hard parts in life. Often the joys, positive experiences, in our skills are completely ignored.
We don’t even, really, have a good understanding of what Autistic success looks like, because, by definition, Autistic People are often described by our failures.
If you want to know more, please stay tuned as I dive in.
In order to receive an autism diagnosis, I had to be able to show the ways in which I was struggling to live up to expectations in NeuroTypical society and in the NeuroTypical world. If you look at the medical criteria for autism, it is written around our weaknesses. It talks about our deficits. In order to meet the criteria for an autism diagnosis, you must be struggling, or in crisis, or have your deficits on display, easy for someone else to see.
If you are masking, camouflaging, good at compensating for your weaknesses, or are just well supported in life, it’s much less likely you’ll get a diagnosis; because you can be Autistic and still managed to thrive in the NeuroTypical dominated society that we live in… believe it or not.
Some Autistic and NeuroDivergent People have managed to stack their lives in a way that supports them. Those of us who are unable to live up to expectations, or come to a point of crisis, when the world is too much, are the ones that are likely to get discovered through the medical lens.
Our current definitions of Autism, and Autistic People, have been written by non-Autistic people, who have observed us from the outside, with little to no insight on the inner workings of the Autistic mind, or why we do the things we do.
They have written down a list of things that they found annoying, or inconvenient, about those of us whose minds work differently… and completely ignored the fact that Autistic People, just like non-Autistic people, are whole, full, and complete people.
We are more than just our struggles and our weaknesses. We are also our strengths, our joys.
There’s talk about Autistic sensory overload and sensory aversions, without talking about sensory joy and sensory euphoria, which is really awesome. There is talk about Autistic People having intense emotional experiences, often focusing on Autistic distress, without focusing on how intense and beautiful Autistic joy can be.
Whenever they talk about Autistic focus, hyper-focus, they talk about it as if this is this detrimental thing. While being focused on the wrong thing, and obsessing over something that I cannot solve, I will admit is a pain. My ability to hyper-focus on a narrow topic is my biggest skill, because that lets me become very skilled in very specific areas.
What the current medical definitions of autism has done is taken everything that is different about Autistic People, and spun it into a weakness, or a problem. Even some of the things that, actually, if looked at from another angle, can be part of our biggest strengths.
Imagine if we did this to a fish and we said, “this fish is such an inferior kind of dog, because the fish can’t run and it can’t chase balls.”
Or if we said “this dog is an inferior fish, because it can’t breathe underwater.”
NeuroDivergent People and Autistic People, our brains work differently. It’s measurable. You can see it if you measure the activity. These differences in the way, different parts of the brains light up. Our brains and minds are different. NeuroTypical, shouldn’t be the standard. It shouldn’t be the default. We don’t have the same strengths and weaknesses as NeuroTypical people, and that’s okay. We aren’t NeuroTypical People.
When Judy Singer came up with the concept of neurodiversity in the nineties, she claimed that Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, Tourette’s syndrome, et cetera… all of which are actually more common in Autistic minds, by the way… were the result of normal variation in human brain type… or as I always say different shades of humanity.
It’s NeuroDiversity, similar to biodiversity in the planet, where having different types of plants and organisms help create one ecosystem. NeuroDiversity is a human spectrum of diversity. It is beneficial, because we have minds that literally think, experience the world, and solve problems differently.
It shouldn’t matter if I have weaknesses that are less common amongst the general population, if we look at things from a NeuroDiversity centered lens, it’s okay that my weaknesses are less typical, because there’s a lot of people that aren’t weak in the area in which I need some help and support.
It’s like that little bird that picks the ticks off the cow’s ear. The cow gets a tick removed. So that’s good for the cow. And the bird gets a disgusting bug of a snack, which is great for the bird.
When our strengths and weaknesses are different from one another’s; we support each other with our varied strengths, skills, and abilities… and that is the beauty of NeuroDiversity.
The medical view of Autism only looks at Autistic pain… only looks at Autistic suffering, only looks it at Autistic People who are struggling and in crisis, and has no picture, or even a definition, of what a thriving, successful, fully supported and empowered, Autistic Person looks like.
Thanks for hanging out with me this week. I hope you found this helpful.
Let me know: Do you agree that the medical definitions of Autism completely ignore, and have no definition, or way to describe Autistics who are thriving, or Autistic success?
Have you experienced any problems with the medical model yourself, personally?
Special, thanks to everyone who gives their comments, feedback, video suggestions, and who shares the videos and the content to help get the word out. I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.
Of course, also grateful to the YouTube channel members, Patreon subscribers, and the Facebook supporters, who do that little monetary subscription to help me create this content, and pay for things such as web hosting, transcriptioning software, and all of those awesome things that I really could not, possibly, do from my little RV, without the help of the viewers like you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This blog is made possible by you, the viewers, and would not be possible without you, the viewers.
I will see you next Wedesday. Bye!
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4 thoughts on “We Don’t Have a Definition for Autistic Success Because We Only Talk About Autistic Struggles & Pain”
Love this. You make really good points that I hadn’t really ever thought about so specifically before. Now that I am chewing on this- I feel like this is one of the big reasons why I’ve not gotten an ‘official’ diagnosis. The structures around that diagnosis only consider the pain and detriment. Woof. More things to chew on. Thank you!
autistic “success” at one end gets assimilated into regular famed humans, most of whom lived before diagnosis; & if you try to claim that today, too many people will fight you on this, because they don’t have the inner experience to see that it is true.
at the other end it is little more than successful masking (should i brag about the times i hid where no one could find me?) & its laborious invisibility.
another approach is reproductive success, though i think on a planet with 7 billion humans this might well be called something less positive by now. (“earth murderer”?–“breeder” is a good healthy animal activity)
i like very much limiting it to “autistic joy” which is something all autistics have experienced, & the onus is to get the allistics to admit that it is as valid as any other. but if you look at “peak experience” (erikson), “mindfulness” (every pop buddhist) & “flow” (csikszentmihalyi) they might have to admit there are people who get a lot more of it than them, & from a lot smaller effort. people they despise. if it was a matter of orgasms it would at least find some respect (not to mention clamoring to find out how).
listen: this is my secret.
imagine it: a month devoted to exploring & explaining autistic joy.
Surviving is a success. Big up everyone tackling this weird world head on! Daily struggle for fellow people with autism recognised, you are appreciated and applauded for continuing.