I’m a Pro-Neurodiversity Advocate. Here’s What Our Critics Never Get Right But Don’t Seem to Care About, Either.

I think it’s great that people want to analyze the neurodiversity movement.  But sometimes they open their mouths without knowing a damn thing about the subject.

[Author’s Note: In the seven days since this post was published, an astonishing number of people have crawled out of the woodwork to argue against the aims of the neurodiversity movement…without understanding what the aims of the neurodiversity movement are.   Those comments have been summarily deleted.

All commenters are reminded to acquaint themselves with this blog’s Comments Policy before commenting on this or any other post.]

There’s a piece by Gwendolyn Kansen in Pacific Standard called “I’m High-Functioning Autistic.  Here’s What the Neurodiversity Movement Gets Wrong About Autism.” [link is to pdf]

Like every other anti-neurodiversity-movement piece I have read to date, this one gets the fundamentals of the neurodiversity movement very, very wrong.  So wrong that it doesn’t even function as a rebuttal of the neurodiversity movement – it functions as a rebuttal of a straw movement inside the author’s head.  This article is Gwendolyn Kansen talking to Gwendolyn Kansen.

Here’s what I mean.

“First off,” Kansen writes,

many of us aren’t high-functioning enough to benefit from depathologizing autism. The neurodiversity movement doesn’t have much to say about lower-functioning autistics, who are decidedly less inspirational.

I’m not going to ask what Kansen intends to mean by “high-functioning.”  The neurodiversity movement has exactly the same thing to say about “less inspirational” autistics that it has to say about “more inspirational” ones: Autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

There’s a saying that autistic kids don’t grow up. And many don’t. They live in group homes, where they have to be watched like hawks so they don’t wander off and drown. They can’t talk to you. Some can’t even shower by themselves.

Needing help with activities of daily living doesn’t make you less worthy of being respected as a human with human rights.  That is what Kansen is implying here.  The neurodiversity movement rejects that view in favor of the view that autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

And they certainly can’t offer nuanced opinions about a cure.

The neurodiversity movement is okay with that.  Even if they don’t have “nuanced opinions about a cure,” autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

Some members of the neurodiversity movement will tell you that “most” autistic people don’t want to be cured — but some studies show that over half of us have an IQ below 70.

The neurodiversity movement is not implying that having a below-average IQ is a good reason to want to be “cured” of autism – or anything else.  Kansen is.  I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that scoring badly on an IQ test doesn’t affect the fact that autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

It’s not just about IQ either. Many higher-functioning autistics also can’t live alone. They’d forget to lock the door or turn off the stove.

I have to wonder if Kansen is speaking from experience here, or not.  I can: I am one of these “more inspirational” autistic people who cannot live alone, because I will and do forget to do things like lock doors, turn off stoves, or feed myself.  I’m still pretty sure I deserve human rights even if I forget to eat food.

In this next excerpt Kansen is talking about herself, but she’s also doing a fairly good job of describing me:

But what’s worse is that I can’t trust my own judgment. Neurodiversity advocates gloss over the fact that people like me have to be on guard every minute. And we’re still about four times more likely to be raped and far more likely to be killed than our non-autistic peers. I’ve never had an awful experience, but I did have a boyfriend in high school whom I would have seen right through if I wasn’t autistic. He was a pathological liar and he tried to turn me against my family. I didn’t have friends in school to tell me he was off, so it just ended up being a humiliating experience that subtly destroyed my trust in people for a long time.

Our executive functioning problems are just as bad…..

Kansen and I share these, and probably other, experiences.  We’re both autistic people who are human beings and who deserve to have our full set of human rights respected.

Unless Kansen is implying that we should not respect her human rights because she had a shitty high school boyfriend, and she didn’t realize he was shitty?

Remember: Kansen’s thesis is that the neurodiversity movement is somehow wrong.  The neurodiversity movement promotes the idea that autistic people deserve human rights.  Therefore, Kansen is arguing here that it is wrong to believe autistic people deserve human rights because we are a vulnerable population.

Kansen has it exactly backwards.  Autistic people are a vulnerable population because our basic rights are not respected.  Kansen continues to get this exactly backwards in the two examples that follow [CN: murder, including homicides by police].

But by far the worst thing about autism is the meltdowns. They’re terrifying.Kayden Clarke was having one when the cops came to his house on a suicide call. Clarke pulled a knife on the cops when they arrived. They shot him.

Is Kansen implying here that Kayden Clarke was responsible for his own murder?  Pro-neurodiversity advocates will tell you that autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected, including their right not to be summarily executed by the police when they need help.

Kansen is taking a stand against the neurodiversity movement.  Should we take this to mean that autistic people shouldn’t have the right not to be summarily executed by cops when they need help?  Again, we are a vulnerable population because our rights (including our right not to be summarily executed by police) are not respected.  By arguing against the neurodiversity movement, Kansen is arguing in favor of this status quo.

(I am not at all sure Kansen understands that this is the argument she is making.  I’m not at all sure Kansen understands what the neurodiversity movement believes.  But when your thesis is that the neurodiversity movement is somehow wrong, you are arguing that neurodivergent people somehow do not deserve human rights.  If this is not Kansen’s intended argument, I’m sure she will pressure Pacific Standard to run a full retraction and apology.)

There are autistic people who scream for hours on end, attack their social workers, and kill their parents.

I have personally communicated, today, with half a dozen autistic people who wanted to “scream for hours on end” after reading this article.

More importantly, one autistic person has been accused of murdering their parent – and the circumstances of the Walker case are clearly anomalous for any person, including an autistic one.  Meanwhile, the Disability Day of Mourning list takes over an hour to read.  

The neurodiversity movement believes that autistic people have the right not to be murdered by those they trust to take care of them.  Is Kansen implying that we have no right to go on living?  That the Disability Day of Mourning list is not long enough?

We are a vulnerable population because our right to live is not respected.

How can anyone claim these are just normal cognitive variations?

1.)  They’re cognitive variations.

2.)  They exist in the human population.

3.)  Therefore, they are cognitive variations humans can have.

4.)  Humans can have both cognitive variations and human rights.

5.)  Humans deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

There’s a reason autism used to be called “childhood schizophrenia”: because it looks like schizophrenia.

Pro-neurodiversity advocates will also tell you that people with schizophrenia are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.  

Neurodiversity advocates want to distance autism from any mental-illness associations.

This is from the writer who just threw people with schizophrenia under the bus in order to support her claim that autistic people are not fully human.

Meanwhile, in conversations about mental illness and autism, pro-neurodiversity advocates are often the first to respond to “autism isn’t a mental illness!” with “So?”  The implication, of course, is that cognitive variation is no excuse for depriving anyone of their full set of human rights.  We don’t establish that autistic people are human by separating them from “mentally ill” people – we establish that both autistic people and mentally ill people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.  Which, as this blog post has hinted, might be kind of important to pro-neurodiversity advocates.

Furthermore, neurodiversity advocates have allied with Mad Pride advocates on a number of projects over time.  When we diverge, we do so for strongly principled reasons – on both sides. But one thing both the pro-neurodiversity camp and the Mad Pride camp agree on is that we are all human beings who deserve to have our full set of human rights respected.

(Caveat: I do not, in fact, find it likely that Mad Pride is what Kansen has in mind when she chides the neurodiversity movement for “distancing itself” from mental illness.  I find it extremely likely that Kansen does not spend significant time interacting with the Autistic community or engrossed in Autistic culture, since neither I nor any of the two dozen Autistic people I consulted before writing this blog post had ever heard of her.)

After some waffling about gene-based cures and the implication that a charity’s budget determines its helpfulness to the people it serves (?!), Kansen ends on this note:

We can’t have a truly productive discussion about autism acceptance by sugarcoating the condition. Not until we accept every part of autism will we start finding solutions.

This is perhaps the one statement that pro-neurodiversity advocates could agree with.  What makes it baffling is that Kansen has spent the previous 22 paragraphs refusing to “accept every part of autism.”  Kansen threw Kayden Clark, Sky Walker, and herself under the bus rather than acknowledge that autistic people will continue to face severe challenges until our human rights are fully supported.

For Kansen, our performance on IQ tests is a problem.  Our struggling with social cues is a problem.  Our difficulty with executive function is a problem.  Our comorbid anxiety and depression are a problem.  Our sensory sensitivities are a problem.  Our meltdowns are a problem.  And all of these problems, Kansen implies, are reasons to reject the neurodiversity paradigm: the idea that we deserve basic human rights.

To be clear: neurodiversity advocates aren’t claiming that these things don’t cause challenges for autistic people, either.  Neurodiversity advocates are claiming that the existence of these challenges is no good reason to curtail our human rights.  In fact, the existence of these challenges is a good reason to support our human rights by offering precisely the accommodations we need to participate in society and pursue personally meaningful goals.

Insofar as she’s opposing the neurodiversity movement, Kansen is implying that the existence of these challenges is a good reason to curtail our human rights – and to deprive us of the very support we need to participate in the wider world.

I don’t think, incidentally, that this is what Kansen means to say.  I think Kansen is “opposing” a movement whose basic premise – that human beings deserve to have their full set of human rights respected no matter what kind of brain they have, what challenges they face, or what support they need – she does not understand.  (Which makes it all the more baffling that she claims to “respect the movement” – it is as hard to respect something you do not understand as it is to refute it.)

I’m still waiting for the day that an “anti-neurodiversity” article actually refutes the core claims of the neurodiversity movement, rather than these tired straw-claims.  What we stand for isn’t news.  We’ve been saying it for decades.  There is no excuse not to understand what you’re arguing against.

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31 thoughts on “I’m a Pro-Neurodiversity Advocate. Here’s What Our Critics Never Get Right But Don’t Seem to Care About, Either.

  1. I have a majorly different issue.

    My son is unlikely to ever be able to live on his own.

    He will require constant care and monitoring.

    Yes he deserves his human rights.

    But we also need to face reality.

    When my wife and I end up dying our son will have to be cared for either by his sisters or a care facility of one form or another. And that care will require almost constant one on one monitoring.

    That is a reality that needs to be acknowledged and recognized.

    He is a great kid but barring a major change in his behaviours he will unlikely be able to work, to have a relationship etc.

    And while he is happy (most of the time) he clearly has a disability because his autism is stopping him from fully participate in life. And no amount of accommodations (and we do and fight for everything we can get). nothing is likely going to increase his abilities.

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    1. The Neurodiversity movement agrees with you – and sees affirming your son’s human rights as the best way to help ensure he *can* get everything he needs to live the best life he can.

      This is what so many so-called detractors don’t seem to get, unfortunately.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. If your son still needs major support as an adult in order to live how he wishes to live, then he should be able to get it.

      If there are therapies that would make him more comfortable or more able to reach his own goals for his life, he should have access to them.

      Neither of these things is at odds with the fact that he is a whole and worthwhile human being, as an autistic person, not in spite of being an autistic person.

      A lot of people (autistic or not) don’t work or have romantic relationships, but that doesn’t make them inferior human beings.

      I’m not sure what specific behaviors you’re referring to (and actually thank you for your respect for your son’s privacy in not explicitly listing them), but this is a resource that a collection of autistic and disabled people put together that may help track down and ameliorate the source of some of them. (It says “aggression,” but a whole lot of maladaptive behavior can have similar causes…)

      http://wearelikeyourchild.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-checklist-for-identifying-sources-of.html

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Whose reality? There is no dearth of recognizing your reality. The truth is, almost all of the funding on autism goes to researching the genetic causes, and to autistic children and their families. The adult autistic population gets almost no support at all – 1%, of funding goes to adult needs.

      There is a vast population of people who have never received adequate support or assistance, who were left undiagnosed, who struggle with daily care, despite the “high-functioning” label. People who are shut out of every day life because “high-functioning” is not relative to NT functioning, and who are effectively shut out of the autistic community because they are not an 8-year old, non-verbal white boy.

      Because there is no accommodation made, reportedly only 10% of high functioning autistics are able to hold a job. We live on average 18 years shorter than our NT peers, largely because the suicide rate is so high because our basic needs are not being met as human beings. So frankly, if the people who fall in this much larger category want to stand up and ask that they be treated with human dignity and shown some mercy, I don’t see how that affects your situation in any way.

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  2. Phenomenal. As usual. And spot on. I think even the person who wrote that horrid piece (which made me want to scream for, like, the hour I have available before I have to deal with other stuff) might get your point. Unless they are so invested in their own they don’t want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neurodiversity is a fact. The word “Neurodiversity” literally means “brains differ from on another.”

      People get “pro” and “anti” when we start talking about how we should respond to that fact as a society. The “Neurodiversity movement” is pro-human-rights-regardless-of-brain-type.

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  3. The original author is bringing up some points that really do need to be discussed, instead of swept under the rug.

    I’ll tell you what I am seeing, though.

    I AM seeing people putting words in the original author’s mouth.
    I AM seeing lots of ad hominim attacks.
    I AM seeing things taken out of context.

    This isn’t reasoned rebuttal, which I’d expect to see on site that calls itself “autistic academic.”

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    1. > The original author is bringing up some points that really do need to be discussed, instead of swept under the rug.

      True. But those points have nothing to do with the aims of the Neurodiversity movement (which actually agrees with the author on many of them).

      > I’ll tell you what I am seeing, though.

      Oh go on, do.

      > I AM seeing people putting words in the original author’s mouth.

      [citation needed]

      > I AM seeing lots of ad hominim attacks.

      [citation needed]

      > I AM seeing things taken out of context.

      [citation needed]

      > This isn’t reasoned rebuttal

      Neither is this comment.

      > which I’d expect to see on a site that calls itself “autistic academic.”

      …which I’d expect from a comment that takes me to task for failing to do that. Accusing people of stuff you are not doing yourself is no way to win an argument.

      Luckily, you can start your own site, call it anything you want, and post whatever you like. Please review the comments policy for details.

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    2. These points are actually addressed by neurodiversity proponents. What the original writer did was spout out the SAME nonsense from detractors who love to go on and on about how HARD autism is but offer no useful solutions besides autism is doom. How does that help anyone? If people need certain things to live a better life, JUST GIVE THEM THE THINGS THEY NEED and RESPECT THEIR HUMANITY! It’s really that simple!

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  4. You know what I don’t get about anti-neurodiversity people? Us pro-neurodiversity people are just sitting here saying, “All people are valuable, have human rights and deserve respect,” and there are literally intelligent, caring human beings who reply, “No, they don’t.” It’s like we’re saying that brownies taste good and they’re screaming that you can’t eat seashells. Their arguments simply make no sense. I really, truly do not understand it.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Personally I think we’re not human. Were the xmen.

    But seriously everyone deserves there full human rights. Even the worst of the worst.

    The second you set yourself up to decide who does and does not deserve there full human rights. You set yourself as more human then them.

    And then my friend your a c**t

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  6. Another problem with these straw rebuttals is they give your average person on the street a fundamental misunderstanding of what the neurodiversity movement is about. Heck, I have seen instances of scientists making peer-reviewed papers based on these straw arguments, like this one:
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stellan_Welin/publication/49827482_Autism_as_a_natural_human_variation_reflections_on_the_claims_of_the_neurodiversity_movement/links/00b7d53173a9e423f3000000.pdf

    This paper states that the neurodiversity model “does not make sense” for those with “low-functioning” autism, yet they do not state, among other things, why it “does not make sense” for “low-functioning” autistics to be protected from murder by their own parents. Furthermore, critics state such things as “even if the biomedical therapies that target the clinical features of, for example, autism and the conditions that may co-occur with it, do not amount to a complete cure, such treatments can still potentially significantly improve the everyday functioning and quality of life of those with these conditions”, which is something neurodiversity proponents are NOT actually opposed to.

    Rather, they are opposed to cures and therapies that a) force the person to pretend to be something they are not, or b) fundamentally change their neurology to such a degree that they are no longer, for practical purposes, the person they once were. And no, I am not talking about the normal neurological changes associated with learning or growing up. I am talking about something far more intrusive, which is exactly what a blanket “autism cure” is. By the way, whoever heard of a remedy for a severe case of any disease (actual or perceived) that would not be more than strong enough to eliminate a milder case of that same disease? I haven’t. Why else do worse case of disorders get bigger doses of the same meds than milder cases of those disorders?

    I think a good potential biomedical intervention would be drugs to help modulate severe sensory disorders or severely disabling synesthesia which is not helped by drug-free sensory aids, which the patient can choose to take as needed or stop if they want to. Another one would be neuroprostheses designed to specifically address different types of speech impairment or motor impairments; again, this would only be for those who have no other means to communicate and trying alternative communication and drug-free sensory modulators such as scheduling tweaks, earplugs, sunglasses, and earphones should ALWAYS be the first resort for these things.

    These particular intervention would not only potentially help “low-functioning” autistics but also people with other types of disabilities, such as brain disorders that impair things like spatial relations or the ability to see motion (as in, the world looks like a buggy video-game screen at all times), or blind people whose acquired synesthesia renders them unable to play their own music or sing, or people whose synesthesia makes them hear sound when they see color and not the other way around, ensuring that they can never not have a noisy environment.

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  7. “I have personally communicated, today, with half a dozen autistic people who wanted to “scream for hours on end” after reading this article.”
    Oh yeees. You can count one more.
    Thanks for taking the time to make this rebuttal . I stil don’t understand how “everyone deserve their human rights respected ” can still be debated !
    have a good day =)

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  8. One quibble, as a sometime carer for large groups of ASD people, and as diagnosed myself. There are anti-social “behaviours” associated with ASD, to the general public, to the ASD person themselves, to their suffering families. In fact it seems to me in the last two where we can’t isolate the ASD person’ rights from those of their family. Families of course will go to almost extreme lengths to accommodate one members behaviours. I am thinking of specific cases but I don;t want to offend by seeming to caricature. I believe, as a matter of legal principle, that there is at some level a trade-off between a person’s rights and those closest. Give and take. Look I’ve no animosity against those parents who just give up and can’t take any more after extreme stress. I don’t judge or condemn them at all. Just as I don’t condemn anyone who has refused to speak to me again after my last public meltdown! (In which I was trying to kick the window out of a community bus I felt trapped in, basically just so the driver would stop and let me off which he was refusing to do, “for my own good”. I’m much less violent now I’ve been diagnosed and have a psychologist, but others don’t know that) It’s a hard world.

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    1. This kind of trade-off, if indeed it is right to do it at all, can only be fair if those closest make an equally uncomfortable sacrifice to meet the autistic person halfway. Sadly, this is highly unlikely to be the case; this type of argument can and has been used to justify abuse even of neurotypical kids, whether that is what you meant to do or not. Furthermore, some of these things are talked about under the heading of “competing access needs”. Also, some of these behaviors, such as meltdowns, are ones that either the person will do whether they have the “right” to do them or not or replace with an equally serious “misbehavior” (i.e. failure to do schoolwork), because they simply do not have the mental resources to do both good behaviors. Even if they do manage to have immaculate behavior, there will likely come a time when they are no longer able to maintain that; they burn out. That is why accommodations that may seem radical (i.e. allowing a kid to leave the room whenever they are about to have a meltdown) may be necessary.

      Unfortunately, proposing a “trade-off”, while it potentially sounds good in theory, in practice tends to lead to most of the rights being given to the caretakers and other more powerful or privileged people, rather than those rights being equally shared between the autistic and the other people. After all, there are a lot of euphemisms in these fields. After all, as you said, “it’s a hard world”; as in, it is a world where marginalization is often encouraged. That does not make it right.

      Heck, the “trade-off” argument could be taken to mean that a family has the right not to deal with the gross-out factor of living with someone who drools or was horribly disfigured in, say, an acid attack (I wasn’t, but still), or they have the right not to learn sign language for their deaf kid because “it’s just too hard”, or they have the right to punish people with Tourette’s syndrome so they don’t have to listen to their tics. There are many more potential examples than that. while I know you are not talking about something that extreme, I also know that people doing these extreme things have an unfortunate habit of using euphemisms that are in the same tone as what you said (i.e. “Kids need discipline; I can’t have them run wild” from a parent who beats their kids with a rod), and therefore you need to be careful that you are not accidentally encouraging them.

      I think it is better to talk about these things in terms of “competing access needs”; everyone has the right to be able to minimize the suffering in their daily existence, but sometimes compromises must be made; these should be made only as necessary and should not diminish those basic rights. Also, it should be recognized that some unpleasant behaviors cannot be helped any more than going to the bathroom can be; that is where the best thing to use is preventative measures rather than denying people the “right” to do these things. Again, some things end up being done irrespective of “rights” (this can include the right to feel an emotion other than happiness, which is sometimes denied), or else it can cause extreme distress to the person not to do them. Also, be careful that some of those “rights” you are denying are not behaviors like hand-flapping that may simply look weird while harming no one; if people learn to understand them, they may become less scary.

      Another thing; just because a behavior that can be stopped intermittently on the part of the person (i.e. whooping, throwing a ball) is okay to stop in certain situations (i.e. at a concert, in the house while Mom is trying to sleep), doesn’t mean that it should be banned all the time; in fact, any situation in which one can do the behavior, they should be allowed to do it. If it is something that can be allowed only rarely, be sure that the behavior you are replacing it with is an acceptable substitute on the part of the person (i.e. replace whooping loudly or ball throwing with rocking or hand flapping).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My father is a high functioning ASD person and his controlling behavior, rigid obsessions and frequent meltdowns made my childhood a living hell which I have never fully recovered from. He was not disgnosed with ASD at that time but with the greater understanding of this condition, it is now obvious. (Very high IQ, math prodigy, engineer, socially awkward, obsessive special interests, inability to understand other’s emotions or perspective, oblivious to body language and social cues, hypersensitive to stimuli like noise, etc. The genetic component is interesting to me as my sister is schizophrenic, and I have experinced major depression although I think my childhood environment contributed to that as well)

        I totally agree that the human rights of autistic people should be respected. However, how do you deal with someone whose condition causes them to act in ways that are damaging to you? One of the things I had to learn through a lot of therapy is how to set boundaries and to feel like I do not have to consent to being anyone’s punching bag. I also had to give up on the idea that my father will ever care about how I feel or see things from my perspective. He loves me, but he doesn’t understand that love is communicated through behavior and emotional connection. For him it is just an abstract idea. If he says it, that should be good enough. This is so heartbreaking for me. My father can’t help himself, but honestly I will not put up with him anymore. If he can’t be nice to me, I will get up and leave. I really don’t care what causes his behavior. I have human rights too.

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      2. There’s a previous post on this blog titled “Fine, We’ll Talk About Autism and Misogyny” that I think you will find very helpful.

        Tl;Dr version: Autism does not make someone an abusive asshole, and autism is not an excuse for abusive asshole behavior. No one has a right to abuse you. It is right and okay to call out/protect yourself from/avoid abusers, full stop.

        I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that. No one has a right, or an excuse, for hurting you that way.

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      3. Regarding Sarah: My comment was not really aimed at victims of abusive people, like Sarah’s father, who use autism as an excuse for crappy behavior. Rather, it was meant to criticize the way people with power over autistic people use lines like “everyone has rights too” or “What about MY comfort?” or “I have a lot of kids to look after and they need things too” to justify refusing to accommodate people. Never mind that their refusal to accommodate the autistic and GENUINELY compromise with them if necessary means that the autistic kids are marginalized and treated like second-class citizens. By the way, both autistic and neurotypical abusers will act as if it is enough to say “I love you” and to believe that they don’t need to communicate “I love you” through actions; I would say that behavior on the part of your father is not really an autism problem. I am sorry you father acted like an asshole towards you.

        Any victims of abuse by autistic people, in which the abuser had clear power over them and not the other way around, can rest assured that that comment is not about them. Even if the abuser is a partner, they can find ways to aid in accommodating their own needs (i.e. which stims are okay, which aren’t) because they are adults, and, while they cannot always avoid meltdowns, they can certainly try as best they can to take the meltdown to another area, allow their partner to leave the room, and avoid channeling their meltdowns into a weapon of control. It is true that autistics sometimes need help avoiding meltdowns, but I believe the best way to tell if an autistic is using a meltdown as a weapon is if they do things like take it out on your stuff, always, or if they blame most or all meltdowns on you; unless you are the one abusing them and you have power over them, you are not the one causing most of their meltdowns. In the heat of the moment, they may blame you for triggering them during a meltdown and making the episode worse, but one who is not using meltdowns as a weapon will try to smooth things over as best they can, when they can, or they will be willing to work on that if they don’t have the skill. Of course, if an autistic abuser frequently has meltdowns that they can stop at the drop of a hat WITHOUT going into shutdown mode (i.e. they don’t flop, they can still socialize easily) the instant someone else shows up, those are not true autistic meltdowns and are the same kind of meltdown that NT abusers use to control people.

        And yes, even if the person is not an abuser, everyone is not available to help whoever needs it where they are, but, again, I mainly am referring to those whose job it is to help their charges, be they parents, caretakers, teachers, or other people with power over the autistic. If you are in one of those positions and you don’t know how to help the autistic, say so and let the parent/autistic person lay out possible accommodations that they think you might be able to provide. If you can provide even some of those accommodations, do so, and if you truly can’t provide some accommodations, say so so that they can go elsewhere or else decide that it is worth being in that program anyway.

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      4. As for my comment regarding Sarah; I thought i should add that, while neurotypical autism experts are unlikely to understand autistic body language after years of working with autistics, that is because they enter into that job close-minded. Same goes with those NTs who have a higher status than the autistic person and as a result do not interact with them on equal ground, like bullies or bystanders who are told to either not interact with the autistic or be their fake friend (that can turn someone into a bully, btw). Neurotypicals who regularly interact with autistics as an equal (i.e. buddies, siblings in families that treat autistics with respect) or as the less powerful one (i.e. the autistic is their parent), especially from childhood, on the other hand, are very likely to learn autistic body signals just by virtue of exposure. All of this is true for neurodivergent allistics as well.

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