A trigger warning is going here just to warn you that there’s going to be a lot of talk about abuse (but I won’t be going into any graphic detail, or much detail at all) because that’s what this post is for – how being autistic tends to mean being a magnet for abuse and how living in an ablest world can make being autistic difficult
Specific trigger warnings:
- Suicide and suicidal thoughts
- Sexual assault
- Ablest namecalling
- Eating disorders
This is inspired by #AutismSelfieWeekend where neurotypical parents began to post photos of their children without their consent and when a friend of mine on Twitter began asking them all “Did your child consent to this photo being uploaded to the Internet publicly?”, one felt like this was abuse directed at them and tried to complain to the “administrator”. Luckily, autie’s everywhere uploaded actual selfies with consent from ourselves to flood out all the negativity but I feel like it’s important to speak up about abuse we receive most days because we’re autistic.
To Note: abuse comes in all levels of severity and doesn’t have to be severe to be counted as abuse and it doesn’t have to be physical
(being asked politely if your child consented to a photo uploaded on the Internet is not abuse)
1. Memes that are clearly to make fun of autistic people or other neurodiversities that can fall on the autistic spectrum such as ADHD and sensory processing disorder (may need fact checking as I’m not 100% sure what does fall on the autistic spectrum)
2. Not very funny jokes on Twitter and other mainstream social medias about autism like when someone says something they consider to be not very smart, they call it “autistic” and therefore calling us all s*upid. Now, some would say “this is just a joke!”, but try posting a photo without a caption of a bottle filled with water that said “Men’s Tears” on it and see the reaction to that because I can guarantee that most of the comments will not be “lighten up, it was just a joke”.
3. Our governments deciding that autism doesn’t count as a “proper disability”, cutting down our benefits or stopping them completely/not allowing us to claim them making it difficult to support ourselves
4. Our parents posting photos of us without our consent or/and talking about our personal information like our privacy doesn’t matter (luckily, my mother is not this parent and it’s unfortunate I have to consider that lucky and not just normal)
5. Autistic POC are more likely to become a target and have their lives at risk daily as their traits can count as “anti-social” or “unresponsive” behavior.
6. How we can be called liars because we don’t fit their belief of what autism is supposed to be like or look like, or how they don’t believe we can really be disabled if we don’t need a wheelchair (although there are autistic people who use wheelchairs)
7. How the biggest autism “charity” in the world promotes and supports the abuse of autistic people and doesn’t hire anyone autistic (Autism Speaks, by the way. If you see anything that says “light it up blue”, don’t, light it up red instead to support Autism Acceptance)
8. When an autistic child is murdered, there’s sympathy for the parent who did it
9. How simply saying you’re autistic makes you a target for abuse on the Internet.
10. How autistic people can be easier to take advantage of and therefore become targets of abuse from their friends/family/strangers including gaslighting and sexual assault.
11. Quite a large percentage of autistic people were bullied during their school years
12. According to this website, up to 66% of autistic people have experienced suicidal thoughts. 30% have experienced suicidal behaviors. 15% of people hospitalized for suicide attempts are autistic. As the article states, there is very little research in this field but there are countless articles on high suicide rates in autistic people if you care to look for them. This is not because being autistic is hard but because being autistic in an ablest world is hard
13. Not an example of abuse but a cause of concern – despite there being a high level of autistic people in the world, there’s a very limited resource of help for us out there
14. How autistic voices are silenced and the voices of people who aren’t autistic take our place – especially parents
15. Despite multiple autistic people saying it’s problematic, books like “The Curious Incident” continue to be spread worldwide which encourages negative autistic stereotypes and harms us. This book, and everything like this book, continues to harm us and nobody will listen to autistic people
16. Having a lack of good social skills like eye contact and clear, friendly speaking can make things like getting a job difficult but making jobs that are adapted to suit us and are good pay and NOT under minimum wage is something that seems out of the question for the world (an example of how the world is ablest). It also, again, makes us a target for abuse when someone else assumes we are neurotypical or we’re just “not trying hard enough” to fit in
17. How we have to adapt to something and it’s rare that they adapt for us or try to accommodate our needs. For example, speaking up in class can be extremely difficult for people who are autistic but instead of offering one-to-one, they’ll try to force them to do it. Another example is how a lot of autistic people prefer to be called “autistic” rather than “with autism” and, unless you are autistic, should just say “autistic” but a lot of people only focus on what they prefer rather than what autistic people as a whole prefer which again is silencing our voice and putting neurotypical people on a higher importance than autistic people concerning what autistic people want and prefer
18. I appreciate how a lot of stores are now trying to create “autism friendly environments” that include dimmed lights, low noise level and a low level of people, however this seems to be at limited stores, the times this is happening is not advertised (I don’t think it’s happening near me at all), and an hour a week isn’t enough as autistic people also have to do things everyone else does like food shopping, clothes shopping, etc. This isn’t necessarily abuse but it does contribute towards the ablest world we live in and how little things that make our lives easier can do an awful lot to help us. Considering how much of the world is autistic, I think it’s something businesses should really consider. It would also help people who have sensory processing disorder, social anxiety, etc.
19. It’s absolutely fine for a parent to speak up about how raising a child is difficult, especially when that child is a different neurotype to their own, however when you blame the autism this can come off as making it sound like autistic people are “burdens” and contributes to the ablest world and feelings of depression
20. When saying “please don’t touch me” is greeted with a response like we’re being divas and our requests on what makes us comfortable is ignored repeatedly. Being touched that cause incredible discomfort and even meltdowns (and if you’ve ever had a panic attack before, you know that having something go on without you having much or any control over it is terrifying so yes, asking a polite request and having it denied can sometimes be abuse when it results in a meltdown or another form of attack)
21. Promotion of a cure rather than research being put into methods to help us because erasing autistic people is better than helping us to live comfortably
22. If you are not a white male, being diagnosed as autistic is more difficult and can therefore mean you do not receive help for being autistic during your childhood and teenage years. Luckily, my mother fought for not just me but both of my siblings too and I was part of an Autism Unit in my mainstream school as well as receiving help outside of school/college and in college. A lot of people are not that lucky. Again, I shouldn’t have to say this is lucky, I should say this is normal.
23. We are unable to portray our natural behaviors like shaking our hands when we are happy or biting a toy in public, we must repress them. When NT people turn something meant for ND people into a joke, like fidget spinners, it makes it difficult for ND people to use these in situations where they may be necessary like in classrooms to help us focus or to ease anxiety
24. Incorrect claims that autistic people lack empathy (when, really, we show it differently and feel empathy stronger) directs harm towards us and puts people, again especially autistic POC, at risk.
25. Ablest namecalling is used in everyday conversation and aims harm in our direction – (please don’t read ahead if you find ablest namecalling triggering, I am about to say an example) – retarded is the most commonly used one and one that a lot of autistic people were calling growing up
26. Claiming that autistic people are “too sensitive” hurts autistic people as this means less people are willing to accommodate us and also ignores that autistic people, generally, go through quite a lot and a few also struggle with PTSD/other mental illnesses and pushing things on autistic people can result in traumatic flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, meltdowns, etc.
27. Hurtful comments all over social media, such as one that still won’t leave my mind (trigger warning for ablest content), “what kind of person could ever love someone who is autistic”. This messed with me a lot when I read this and I genuinely believed nobody would ever love me and that I was unlovable. The especially hurtful thing about it was how many likes the comment had received and how many replies were in support of the original commenter.
28. A large amount of autistic people develop eating disorders for many reasons, including (but not limited to) – texture of foods due to sensory issues, not feeling hunger, “emotional eating”, stress, needing control over something when everything else is not in control, having a limited diet, etc.
29. Forcing ourselves to try our hardest to act neurotypical to provide the comfort of others around us, resulting in high anxiety/feelings of depression
30. Linking to the last point, unable to tell people you’re autistic until you get to know them for your own safety and having to pretend you’re someone you’re not until you come to understand if the person can be trusted or not
31. Neurotypical people frequently “policing” the behavior of autistic people
32. How being abused by a parent who genuinely has your best interests at heart is normal for autistic people as there is such a lack of resources and help and so much misinformation spread around that it hurts autistic children and teenagers growing up under a well-meaning guardians’ care.
This is almost definitely not all of the abuse that autistic people go through on a regular basis. I have probably missed out quite a lot and will need to write another post on it to attempt to cover everything that autistic people go through. As you can see by now, I hope, this is the reason why calling autistic people “abusive” for pointing out that you need your child’s consent for something to be posted to the internet (in worst case scenarios, in can even be made into a meme making fun of autistic people, which is fairly common) was extremely insensitive considering everything autistic people go through and I hope this has helped shed a light on why it was wrong.
This was extremely emotionally challenging to write so I hope you don’t mind me linking my book wishlist here! You don’t have to, it’s just there if you want to. Thank you in advance for even considering it.
Please, next time you think about posting a photo online, please make sure it’s with the child’s full consent and they know 100% what they are consenting to, including the pros and the cons. If they don’t understand/can’t consent, it’s probably best that you just don’t upload the photo onto a public platform at all in the best interest of the child.
Thank you for reading