In Autism Month conversations around Autism become more prevalent for a short period of time. Watching the festivities kick off, only 3 days into April, I’m noticing that there are 2 main ways people are talking about Autism and Autistic People online:
FIRST (what I, personally, believe): The world is horrible for Autistic People, and that we need to fix the world so Autistic People can be properly included within it.
NEXT (the gloom and doom narrative): That Autistic People are “the problem” and the (NeuroTypically designed and controlled) world is fine.
Those who view Autistics as a problem to be solved, believe Autistic People are incomplete, broken, or poorly behaved, and therefore, need to be molded to fit into the world around us.
People who see Autistics as broken non-autistics, believe the ultimate goal for an Autistic is for them to become as “normal” or non-autistic appearing as possible (indistinguishable from their peers). This holds Autistic People to unfair (and often unreachable) non-autistic standards and ideals, which is cruel (because it sets us up for failure).
Many outsiders (who don’t understand the inner-workings of the Autistic brain) will see Autistic People acting and communicating in ways they do not understand and reject the natural Autistic ways of doing things.
Because of this rejection, many Autistic People have been forced to communicate, socialize, regulate, and move in ways that are unnatural.
For example, let’s take eye contact:
As an Autistic person, eye contact can feel like a very intimate experience (an experience that I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with someone I did not know very well).
Forcing me to make eye contact with a stranger can make me feel very uncomfortable (because it feels like a very intimate experience). Having unwanted eye contact with the wrong person feels like a violation of my personal space, but I know it’s expected of me, so I often am forced to fake eye contact or give it anyway (despite my discomfort).
We wouldn’t and ask a child to let an adult touch them in a way that made them uncomfortable, but many Autistic kids will be told to “look at me when I’m talking to you” or one from my childhood “look at my nose!”
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