Debunking 7 Ableist Autistic Phrases
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.
DEBUNKING 7 ABLEIST
"I think that part of these different ableist phrases are people not being educated on Autism and not being able to recognize what is myth and what is true about disability. Hence why I have made this post, amongst a series of posts on this topic, to try and ease the burden that Autistic people face in feeling obliged to cope with or educate people when faced with some of these phrases. I hope too that it explains to neurotypical people how some of these phrases are harmful.
"It's just bad parenting, not Autism"
"In 1949, Leo Kanner, An Autism researched, stated that 'refrigerator mothers' are the cause of Autism. He said that they were 'cold and uncaring.' Although this was obviously proven to be a myth, the harm from this theory still exists. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability which is not caused by bad parenting. Autistic people are born Autistic. Some people assume that parents should just 'punish' their Autistic children for the Autistic traits (like meltdowns or stimming) to make them 'less Autistic.' However, this is impossible and is likely to increase the distress of an Autistic child.
"Look me in the eyes!"
"Saying this to an Autistic person is essentially like saying 'stop existing as your Autistic self; existing how you are is not ok.' Eye contact can be painful for Autistic people. Other Autistic people describe it as feeling like a deeply intimate experience. I think forcing an Autistic person to give eye contact, something that often feels painful to us, for the comfort of neurotypical people, feels wrong to me. Autistic people are, on a minute by minute basis, forced to adapt to neurotypical norms so it would me nice if neurotypicals could adapt to us too.
"Only children are Autistic."
"Autism is a disability that is lifelong. Autism cannot be cured (and lots of Autistic people wouldn't want a cure anyway.) Autistic people often face new struggles as adults due to encountering different situations like being expected to live independently and no longer being in education. Unfortunately, services for Autistic people do often end at 18 [years old] but that does not mean that Autistic adults do not exist. Instead, it means that there needs to be more support for Autistic adults.
"You are not like my Autistic child / friend / cousin."
"No, all Autistic people are different, just like all neurotypical people are different. Sometimes, I find that people use this phrase to invalidate and silence what Autistic people have to say on Autism. Sometimes, people assume that just because an Autistic person is able to type on social media, means that we are automatically are able to speak, complete self care tasks or manage our daily living situation, when this isn't always the case (and that is totally okay!). It is important not to dismiss someone's voice or assume the support that they need.
"Autistic people never want to make friends."
"Although some Autistic people may not want to make friends (and that is totally valid), lots of Autistic people do want to have friends and feel socially connected. However, Autistic people often struggle with social isolation, Autistic people may struggle with building friendships due to the mutual misunderstandings between Autistic and neurotypical people. Autistic people struggle to figure out what neurotypicals are thinking and feeling. Similarly, research shows that neurotypical people struggle to work out what Autistic people are thinking and feeling.
"What is your savant skill like Rain Man?"
"Some Autistic people have a savant skill but most Autistic people don't have a savant skill. You should not assume that an Autistic person has a special skill. Autistic people who are represented in the media are often characters with savant skills. Sometimes, it feels like Autistic people with savant abilities are most represented in the media because of their assumed benefit to capitalist society or because they are some kind of interesting spectacle for society to observe. All Autistic people (those with and without savant skills) deserve to feel represented and respected.
"Isn't it nice that that person is willing to be friends with you?"
"Autistic people are not in need of sympathy friendships. Autistic people are valuable and worthy of authentic friendship. Assuming that someone us a hero for being friends with an Autistic person makes it seem as if we are less than human. If Autistic people were seen as equal to neurotypicals by society, our friendships would be seen as just that - friendships - except at the moment they are seen as an act of heroism.
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.