Straight-jacket thinkers

Belonging is that word, which brings to mind acceptance, being understood and seen. The vulnerability of belonging is on both sides of a connection and it only works when two sides are sitting in it. Belonging creates awareness, knowledge, growth and change.

Currently, there seems to be a fragmentation between much of the autistic community (people who are autistic) and those who aren’t autistic. And unfortunately, out of this fragmentation, arises misconceptions, stereotypes and down right fallacies.

Before being aware and diagnosed as autistic and ADHD, I didn’t really understand autism at all. I thankfully joined and was accepted into autistic groups, where I’ve listened and learned a great deal since my diagnosis last year. I still have a lot to learn, but the ableism that I now see, which permeates and impacts on the autistic community, is simply not okay, justifiable or even logical.

The stories of doctors who have laughed at women who are seeking a diagnosis for themselves, to other health professionals who dismiss a diagnosis, because their understanding of what autism is, is from the 90’s. For those vulnerable enough to say “I’m autistic” to someone, to be responded to with “you don’t look autistic” or “you don’t act autistic” or even “how could you be autistic, you seem to have empathy?”

The amount of allied health professionals who STILL believe that autistic people lack empathy, is staggering and shows an enormous gap in not only their lack of knowledge, but the outdated stereotypes which plague this entire topic! Autistic people don’t lack empathy, any more than non-autistic people. Autistic people may communicate differently, but that does not correlate in any way to a lack of empathy!

This straight-jacket style of thinking has got to stop and it can’t just be up to autistic people to be raising awareness and educating those who don’t know or should know any better. Non-autistic people have to start stepping up! This world is for everyone and everyone belongs, so everyone should do their part to be learning and willing to invite different parties to the conversation.

The reason I’ve written this article, is because a lot of this topic, including my own experiences has left me thinking “where the hell do we belong?!” The world as it currently is, has not been set up to welcome, include and support autistic people. Yes there are those marathons to ‘raise awareness for autism’ but I doubt 80% of those people who participate would be any more aware on actual autistic issues, than when they first started the marathon. And that doesn’t even go into whether the organisation who is organizing the marathon, is autistic friendly or aligned.

The next time that you think an autistic person isn’t autistic or can’t do something, check on that! Question it! Your immediate assumptions are essentially the brain’s way of “lazy” and efficient processing, based on likely inaccurate data.

And if you’re an allied health professional or doctor….the next time a person comes to see you to seek a diagnosis, don’t laugh at them or minimize what they’re saying…because, you’re probably wrong.

Please stop being a straight-jacket thinker and start listening to the neurodiverse community.

Published by Kath

Autistic, Mum, ADHD, Neurodivergent...probably from another planet.

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