Woo, a Tumblr user posted a pile of questions in the #actuallyautistic tag and I answered them and here they are.
Trigger Warning: Disability on Disability ableism, general ableism
Why do people keep saying autism isn’t a disability?
Why do people want autism to be seen as a personality quirk or something like being gay, rather than a disability? (Surely doing so = no services or help?)
What is the social model of disability and what does that have to do with autism?
Why are people always so desperate to point out autism isn’t a mental illness? Is it because mental illness is something uncool or embarrassing to have so you must not be associated with it? When I read posts like that, it makes me feel bad because I have mental illnesses and I feel like the posts add to the stigma, but maybe I’m just misinterpreting?
I'm not sure why people keep saying autism isn't a disability. It might have something to do with a misunderstanding of the social model (impairments aren't the sole cause of disability, but that doesn't mean disability isn't real,) or with Aspie Supremacy (it's gross, and it's a thing.) Not really sure.
I don't know why that is either. Maybe it's related to the first, maybe because they thing "not a disability" is required for "not pathologized" and being treated like people?
Social model basically means that yes, impairments are a thing, but that most of the problems faced by disabled folks in daily life have more to do with society being horrible to people about their impairments/differences than the impairments/differences themselves. In terms of autism specifically, I come up with things like: People want us to not stim because it's weird, and not stimming takes energy/isn't always possible/stimming sometimes gets us kicked out of things/children must be "table ready" before their education can begin, and all those things are what really causes the problems, not the fact that we flap our hands or rock. Or that the lack of eye contact isn't actually a big deal except that people make it one. Or that it's possible to accommodate for sensory issues and people just don't do it, and that's a bigger issue than the sensory issues on their own would be.
Another example would be the part where some autistic people do not use oral speech. If AAC were a standard part of education for autistic people (I wish it were, but it's not,) then many people who have that specific impairment would be able to communicate more reliably than they currently can, which would make it less of a problem than it is.
The social model also allows for some things that are not necessarily impairments to be disabilities/disabling. Stimming that does not endanger anyone would go there.
One case of an impairment that is typically not considered a disability is nearsightedness or farsightedness to a level that can be easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses. My vision is pretty bad. My whole family has pretty bad vision. But it's not considered a disability. Glasses certainly are assistive technology, but no one things of them that way.
I think the big idea behind social model is that society responding to impairments has a much bigger effect on something being a disability or not than the actual impairments do.
You read it right, I think. I get bothered by the mixing of autism/mental illness because it is factually incorrect and false statements presented as fact BOTHER me, but I try not to call that out in ways that will add to mental illness stigma because throwing other disabled people under the bus to protect myself is bad. And in many cases, that's what people are doing. Like "We're not violent" in conjunction with "we're not crazy/mentally ill" is adding to the stigma, which is a problem. But "You are factually incorrect in the following ways: 1) Developmentally disabled folks are not more likely to be violent than the general population, and are more likely to be the victims of violence and abuse than the general population. 2) Ditto for mental illness. 3) BTW, autism goes in the first category, not the second." seems like it's probably not tossing more stigma at mental illness? I dunno, I don't have one and you do so maybe you can tell me if that one seems OK to you, at least.