In a collaborative effort to amplify Autistic voices, I'm sharing @neurodivergent_lou 's word from her Instagram page on my public blog. I have asked permission to share her words because I believe her experiences as an Autistic person are important & need to be heard & recognized, especially my parents of Autistic Kids.
"I am aware that when people use this phrase, they often think this is a compliment. They say this with the assumption that Autism is inherently bad a by saying we don't look Autistic, they are complimenting us. Although it can come from good intentions, the phrase can be harmful and to me, it feels like [it] is a product of the ablest society that we exist in.
"Similarly, Autistic people often mask our Autistic traits. This means that we have spent years observing and mimicking neurotypical people in order to be accepted in society, which is often hostile towards neurodivergent traits. So yes, you may not initially realize that we are Autistic. this means that we are using a lot of energy to not appear Autistic, in a world that can be hostile to Autistic people.
"Another factor to add when discussing the phrase 'you don't look Autistic' - Autism doe snot have a look. The idea that Autism has a look is outdated and based on myths and stereotypes. I am concerned that perpetuating the idea that Autism has a look prevents multiple marginalized Autistic people from being diagnosed.
"There are different ways that you can be supportive when someone shares a diagnosis with you. Through doing this, you are helping to affirm their sense of identity, build your friendship / relationship with them and help position yourself as a supportive person. By not using the phrase "you don't look Autistic," you are helping to break down the stereotypes that exist around Autism and are avoiding the portrayal of Autism as something which is inherently bad.
ALTERNATE PHRASES TO USE WHEN SOMEONE SHARES THAT THEY ARE AUTISTIC
As a reminder, these are @neurodivergent_lou 's words shared from her Instagram page. I'm sharing a collection of her words so that parents of disabled kids can read & learn from an Autistic Adult & hopefully better understand.
I'm also sharing Lou's CashApp & Ko-fi account. She posts this information for anyone willing to donate should they learn something from her sharing this information.