Inspired by Shit Ignorant People Say to Autistic People and BBC’s Things Not to Say to an Autistic Person. Some of this is also just things in the world that I think are offensive towards autistic people. I want to write this for Autism Awareness Week, all about spreading some actual awareness because we all know autism exists but not many know anything that useful about it, and also because I really love ranting and some good ol’ lists. So organised.
Because it was looking like a really long post, I decided to split this post into two. There’s just such a lot of things not to say to autistic people and things that cause offense that I and people I know/are friends with pick up on that it’s a challenge to fit it in a nice and short blog post.
CW/TW: There are some slurs and offensive and ablest phrases/words in this blog post so if that causes upset/triggers, please click off this post. I really wouldn’t want anyone getting harmed! There are also some swearing/cursing that may cause upset.
Also important to note that not every autistic person is the same. This doesn’t apply to every one of us.
- Those shirts with “I love someone with autism!” on them are a bit offensive because I’m not hard to love because I’m autistic and you’re not a hero for loving someone with autism. They don’t even look good.
- “You know, everyone is a little bit autistic”
This refers to, for example, severe discomfort in sunny weather. I am unable to be in sunny weather without being in pain (bad headaches/migraines, with or without sunglasses although sunglasses do help). I can’t see anything because the light is just too bright but when I mention this is because of autism, they usually say something along the lines of “Well I find sunlight uncomfortable, too”.
- “You don’t look autistic”
I don’t really know what you expect us to look like. The truth is autistic people are all around you everyday, just like you, doing perfectly ordinary things like walking their dog or going to work.
- I have to adapt to the world so when people act like I’m asking them to walk the Sahara desert when I say “Hey, can you turn the music down, it’s really loud in here” (and we don’t even mention how it could cause a meltdown), please think about that for a second
Autistic people have spent their life trying to alter themselves to fit in to the world we live in. We’re creative and adapt to situations (even though some of us really aren’t that fond of change) to create a middle ground. Except there is no middle ground, because what generally happens is autistic people continuously acquiring for the needs of NT people but other people refusing to acknowledge that autistic people have different needs too. Usually in slightly different situations than the example above.
- No, I don’t know your autistic brother who lives forty miles away. Sorry.
You’ll be surprised how frequently I hear these things when my autism is brought up. They usually say things like “Oh, really, my uncle is autistic too! Andrew, do you know him?”. How would I know him?
- Please stop saying what ’caused’ my autism. Too much TV. Vaccines. GMO’s. My mother not eating healthy during pregnancy. A lack of discipline. I’m autistic because I was born with it. That’s the conspiracy.
One of the most offensive comments I receive purely because of the ignorance of it. So harmful. I don’t even trust myself to comment much without getting so mad.
- “You’re using autism as an excuse to be rude”
*blinks at you in disbelief you just said that*
- I’m not automatically extremely talented or intelligent because I’m autistic
For years, I felt so shit about myself or I wasn’t really autistic because I don’t feel exceptionally talented or intelligent. I’m smart but not that smart. It took me a while to learn that we’re just ordinary people. Pretty cool and different but ordinary. If that makes sense?
- I do feel empathy. I feel sympathy. I actually feel stronger. Take that for what you will.
It’s actually possible for me to have meltdowns from feeling too much empathy. Yep. I’m not making that up.
- No, I like being alone. My depression isn’t because I’m not going to clubs every weekend. Bright lights, bodies touching, loud noises…yeah, sounds perfect.
I mostly hear this from my family, especially those that don’t have any mental illnesses or disability. The most recent was “Well, I’d be depressed if I never left the house or spoke to anyone”. No, you don’t get it, talking to people really stresses me out and takes so much energy out of me. It would make it worse.
- I DON’T WANT A CURE, GO AWAY
Some autistic people do, but just because a very small percentage wants to does not mean you should treat the entire autistic spectrum like it’s cancer. Autism makes up way too much of who I am to get rid of it. I wouldn’t be the same person, at all. Not even close. Finding a cure is a waste of time and money and takes it away to create more helpful resources so we can lead a more comfortable life.
- “Just act normal and nobody will pick on you”
Normal is offensive wording. To start of with. Secondly, we are normal, we’re just a different kind of normal and we shouldn’t have to change just so people don’t treat us like shit.
- My routine isn’t boring
It’s comforting and makes life easier to live
- “I work with autistic children/my child is autistic/someone in my family is autistic, I know all about autism!”
- Following that, being a parent of an autistic child does not mean you should be their voice or exploit their vulnerable moments to gain sympathy or spread awareness.
All too often, and my parents weren’t innocent of this either and my mother is not a bad mother, I see people recording their childrens’ breakdowns/meltdowns and say what basically can be summed up to “Do you see what we have to deal with” instead of not recording it at all and being there for their child or just spreading awareness of how sometimes children aren’t misbehaved or having tantrums, sometimes they find the world much harder than other neurotypical children.
- Nor should you say “autism mom/mum/mam” like you are part of our community and that your voice is just as valid because it’s not, it makes your voice speak in unity with ours which sure sounds great, but when our voice gets silenced because of someone who isn’t personally living autism…you see where the problem is now, right?
My voice gets ignored time and time and time again because of the experiences of the parent. Their voice matters too but it’s not meant to overpower us or spread harmful messages the way it does.
Because I have roughly twenty four other points to make (that’ll probably keep growing), I’m going to make this into a short-term series. I won’t pressure myself to release it by a certain date/time, but they won’t be months and months apart. Realistically, probably days/couple of weeks apart.
Hope it was somewhat informative?