Have you ever felt “not autistic enough” or that your autism didn’t meet the expectations of others outside the autie community? Have you ever felt the need to seem “more” autistic on social media in order to be accepted by the neurodiversity movement? Have you downplayed or overemphasized passions, moods, opinions, comorbid diagnoses, and other identities to be seen as more autistic?
We’ve heard that no two autistics are alike, but this goes beyond stimming preferences, masking abilities, and tendencies towards shutdowns versus meltdowns. Sometimes it feels as though there is an unspoken autism code: We emphasize special interests, sensory sensitivities, and unmasking. Yes, these are important topics that need overwhelming discussion, but it’s okay to pause and take in the diversity of the autistic community. What would we see?
Autistics are known for questioning and challenging gender and sexuality constructs.
Autistics include all genders, races, and sexualities.
ELL autistics are underdiagnosed due to the prevailing idea that ELL students should be silent if they can’t speak English.
Gender non-conforming autistics are silenced in a disconcerting attempt to keep the community “uncomplicated.” Black autistics are labelled as aggressive and distracting from the “greater” autism movement.
Autistics struggling with any mental health conditions outside of anxiety and depression are told to get off social media because the painful reality of CPTSD, BPD, BD, EDS, EDs, PDA, and more, are too much to bear.
What does this equate to? Have you ever heard a parent, medical professional, or educator say, “You’re not like my autistic child/patients/students/etc.?” If we highlight our differences, then the media’s portrayal of the spectrum can expand and supports can be provided to all autistics.
So where’s the tip? If you are able & comfortable, be loud about your personal intersections and deviations from the autism “norm.” In doing so, we not only advocate for ourselves but also for undiagnosed & unnoticed autistics that desperately need society to look past stereotypes and see them for who they really are.