Repost with permission from Eileen Lamb’s The Autism Cafe
I am stuck in the middle.
I fight to help neurotypicals realize that no matter how “normal” an autistic person looks, their disability is real. I fight to help neurotypicals see autistics as their equal. I fight because I don’t want a single autistic person to be bullied, and I fight to normalize non-harmful stimming. You’d think that makes me an excellent autistic advocate, but somehow, it doesn’t. Large parts of my community reject me.
Rejected by the #ActuallyAutistic community
I’m rejected because I believe ABA therapy is great if done right. I’m rejected because I think that neurotypical parents of autistic children absolutely can speak about autism from their non-autistic perspective and that the attempts to quiet or shame them, primarily, are toxic bullying. I’m rejected because even though I respect others’ right to say it how they please, I don’t always say “autistic” over “person with autism”, and I’m not offended by either term. I’m rejected because I don’t reject the color blue, nor the puzzle piece symbol.
I’m rejected because I don’t share the same views as the most vocal autistic subgroup who label themselves “advocates” or #ActuallyAutistic.
So I’m stuck, then, between these two worlds. I’m not neurotypical and nor could I pretend to be, and I’m not severely autistic either. I don’t see autism as a life sentence, nor as a gift for most who have it.
I want people to know that autistic people deserve to be loved as hard as any neurotypical. But I also want them to know that not all autistics are dealt the same hand. Some will learn to communicate and live independently (like me), but others will never be able to.
Stuck in the middle
It’s a challenging spot, this gray area. I hear about similar issues in many other communities, like deaf people who are shunned for getting cochlear implants.
If we were to remember one single thing about this, it’s that no one person or group can speak for an entire community. I indeed do not. But they don’t speak for me either. They don’t speak for anyone but themselves.