Trigger warning: murder, lots and lots of ableism.
I saw a girl post an apology for the fact that she has autism, that she will never be what her parents want her to be. I responded to her with the usual message of it's ok, it really is, autism isn't the end of the world. That was for her. This is for me.
This is why things like the AutismPositivity flash blogs are needed, this is why things like Loud Hands are needed, this is why Autreat and Don't Mourn For Us and Autism Acceptance Month are needed. A teenager was diagnosed as autistic at age thirteen. Her parents didn't tell her for two years. And when she found out? The picture she had of autism made her not want to accept her own neurology. She believed that autistic people were straight up freaks, and that as she was not a freak, she could not really be autistic. When she came to terms with the fact that she really is, in fact, autistic, her reaction was to try to make herself normal. She tried to beat her own brain, to make herself be like the rest of her family, and she couldn't do it. Of course she couldn't, and people were wrong to ever send the messages that led her to try. A brain that is wired differently leads to being different. It's not that complicated, but people are obsessed with normalization. Whatever lip service we may pay to diversity, we do not really want it, and it hurts to look at that fact. It hurts even more when you are outside the range of acceptable diversity, as I am, as she is, as every Autistic person and person with autism is.
And it has devastating effects, far worse than the actual impairments of autism. No impairment is the reason that we are called freaks. No impairment is the reason that we are bullied (no, flapping our hands is not an impairment, nor is it anything more than a convenient excuse, a difference that does not impair anything.) No impairment is the reason we are told that we have no human dignity. No impairment is the reason doctors still tell us to consider alternatives after establishing that the only alternative is death. No impairment is the reason that she was ostracized from her own family. Their reactions to it, society's reactions to our impairments and our simple differences, are the reasons for these things. Ableism is to blame. Ableism is to blame for the high rates of depression that we face, likely for her specific depression. Ableism is to blame for our high rates of PTSD. Ableism is to blame for people considering it acceptable to murder us, and to give the sympathy to our murderers, not to us. Ableism is to blame for the fact that when the same people used the same techniques to try to cure autism and queerness, these methods (slightly modified, but the cited study is often that old one with electric shocks) are still seen as the gold standard of our education while their monstrosity has been (mostly) recognized in their use against Queer people. Ableism is to blame for so much, including the numbers of us who think these things are not the fault of systematic oppression but rather a reasonable result of our disability.
Autism has no cure.
To me, this is a relief, because I know what would happen if there were one. To others, this is a horrifying thought, the realization that they will be like this until they die. I understand that the are people who, even in the absence of ableism, might still wish not to be autistic (Just for themselves, no, this does not mean you can decide this for anyone else ever.) I can even fathom some of the reasoning they might have. But the vast majority? Ableism is to blame for the ones who want to be cured because their family rejects them, because society rejects them, because they are seen as freaks, because they have been told that autism will prevent them from reaching their goals even when their goals and their actual impairments have no relation. When I see people blame these things on autism, I want to scream, and when autistic people accept these notions, I want to weep.
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