If you do not know what I mean by #NotAll-ing: When an autistic posts something about what allistics do, it goes without saying that not all do it, but many do, so responding with “not all allistics do that, so don’t lump us in” is basically like a man saying “not all men” on a post about rape (just an example, Im not comparing autism to rape, or allistics to rapists, relax). Yes we get it, not all allistics (non autistics) treat us (autistics) like shit, but oh so many do and that is why these things need to be said.
When you say things like #NotAll so and so about the thing, you are essentially belittling the thing talked about, or seemingly trying to make the thing not so important. The thing being talked about matters to the people talking about it, whatever that thing might be. And to be perfectly frank (and maybe even rude) about it– if you aren’t actually Autistic you don’t really have a right to tell an autistic person that such a thing never happens, because that particular autistic very likely has seen that thing happen or it has happened to them. Autistics are beginning to speak for themselves, and much of which is through social media, because not all are verbal and typing online is a handy way to get their “voices” out there. But it is met with a lot of negativity from parents of autistic kids, which is always astonishing to me, because these are people that should be more understanding than someone who does not have autism in their lives. But they get offended, sometimes, and rather easily. Do I really have to say that not all parents of Autistic kids yadda yadda? Well just in case, there it was.
Many many arguments and misunderstandings happen online within Autism groups, often between autistic and non autistic parents of autistic kids. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that autistics tend to word things more bluntly and the non autistics read it with a tone that simply isnt there. And there is also this misconception that if one is able to type coherent sentences online then that person is too “high functioning” and “not autistic enough” to have a valid opinion. People that hold that statement to be true have no friggin idea what that specific individual might have suffered through or overcame in their lifetime. Maybe it took years to find their particular form of communication, and then with a simple phrase it is belittled and all that hard work becomes diminished by some stranger on the internet. This is how *some* allistics like to silence autistic adults. The very autistic that you might be arguing with may have been nonverbal, or they slammed their head into things during meltdowns, or they might have chewed on their hands until they bled at some point or maybe they even still do. You. Don’t. Know.
Using the term high functioning can belittle the struggles of an autistic. Using the term low functioning can belittle that particular autistic in a way that people assume they have no strengths. I hate the functioning labels to be perfectly honest. Personally, I fluctuate. There are days where I get shit done. There are also days where I cannot function. There are many days where I am in between, sort of functioning but not really. It will vary depending on stress, anxiety, sensory issues, and anything else really… I guess my point is that no matter where we are on the spectrum we ALL have our struggles and our strengths, just at different levels and they vary from day to day. And that is if you don’t count comorbids. Don’t even get me started on the damn comorbids. Okay maybe Ill say a little. When people talk about hating autism, most things they are thinking about are the comorbids. So it would be nice if people would recognize that. If you do not know what I mean by comorbids those are other conditions that autistics may have as well like ADHD or Anxiety, or SPD, or Epilepsy, etc.
So often, when an autistic tries to give their opinion on something that disagrees with a non autistic person it is met with such animosity and defensiveness. Then when the autistic tries to explain that they didn’t mean it however it was taken they are tone policed, told that they should be more polite while stating their opinion, etc. This gives the message that the non autistic’s feelings are more important than the opinion of an autistic person who actually lives through what that person’s child lives through (on some level). And yes, not all autistics are the same, we say that when non autistics try to fit us all into a box, however we all have to fit certain criteria to be autistic, so don’t you think that maybe there will be similarities among us?
Those of us that do take the time to try to offer our advice or opinions in a group or forum do so because we can relate on some level and most likely because we care about our fellow autistics so much that we want others to understand it from our perspective. Being autistic makes it where when we see things talking about autistics it is personal to some degree. We see ourselves as kids when we read posts by parents talking about their children, because we were once children too, dealing with very similar scenarios. So when this happens it is difficult to not get a bit passionate and pushy when trying to get our opinions across. I ask that if any of you non autistics do tend to try to silence autistics (online or in real life) to maybe consider all of which I have stated above. Autistics are the ones with communication issues, so to tell us to say things differently, in my opinion, is quite an insult, especially if it took a very long time and a shit load of hard work to be able to say what we do.
And before anyone says “you don’t speak for all autistics”, I know that. But I’m willing to bet that many other autistics will agree with what I have said.
Please also keep in mind that your autistic child will grow up to be an autistic adult. How would you want people to treat them? Would you find it acceptable for others to speak to your child the way that you speak to autistic adults? If not, then maybe it’s time to take a long hard look at the way you conduct yourself.