For those new to autism and the Autistic community, it can be very overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there, some good, some bad. This is a basic outline to help you get started and give you an idea of how the Autistic community operates by #ActuallyAutistic individuals themselves.
Autism is a Neurotype
It is not a disease/illness that needs to be cured. It is not an add-on to a neurotypical brain that needs to be removed/fixed. It is an Autistic’s very neurology. They are the way they are because of it. It is one of the many ways to be neurodivergent.
The Autistic community prefers identity-first language over person-first ie “Autistic” instead of “with autism.”
Most Autistics reject the puzzle piece and prefer the infinity symbol instead.
Autism Speaks is a hate group despised within the Autistic community, for good reason.
On Functioning Labels
Functioning labels and DSM levels are harmful and ableist and should not be used ie “high/low functioning,” “level 1/2/3” or “Asperger’s/Aspie.”
Autism: A Spectrum
“If you’ve met one Autistic person, you’ve met ONE Autistic person.”
The autism spectrum isn’t linear, going from mild to severe, as commonly misunderstood.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)
ABA is an abusive compliance therapy that is worse than dog training for Autistic children. It encourages masking and scars Autistics for life, be that through PTSD, depression, anxiety, burnout or generally terrible mental health etc.
Ivar Lovaas, the person who founded ABA, used to electrocute (among other things) Autistic kids in order to make them “indistinguishable from their peers.” He took the concept of reward and punishment to a whole new level. According to him, “you start pretty much from scratch when you work with an autistic child. You have a person in the physical sense – they have hair, a nose and a mouth – but they are not people in the psychological sense. One way to look at the job of helping autistic kids is to see it as a matter of constructing a person. You have the raw materials, but you have to build the person.”
#NoToABA #SayNoToABA #BanABA #CriminalizeABA #YesAllABA #ABAisAbuse are informative hashtags.
Nonspeaking does not equate to unintelligent, nor does it mean the person is “afflicted with severe autism.” Speaking is not a standard to be reached/achieved. There’s nothing wrong with being nonspeaking. There are other modes of communication besides verbal speech. Look into Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
Communication First focuses on communication rights for nonspeakers.
Stimming is like breathing.
~ Neurodivergent Rebel
Stimming ie self-stimulatory movement(s) is a way to express oneself, self regulate, concentrate, release energy, provide sensory input etc. Forcing an Autistic to not stim is taking away their right. There’s nothing wrong or pathological about stimming and it should be encouraged, not discouraged (unless it is harmful).
Meltdowns are not tantrums. Tantrums are manipulative, meltdowns are not. Meltdowns are a result of sensory/emotional/mental overload, are an explosion of emotion and should not be dismissed or taken lightly.
Simplistically speaking, shutdowns are internal meltdowns ie implosion of emotion.
Masking is when Autistics appear to be NT and is incredibly harmful. The problem is that if they don’t mask, they’ll be discriminated against for being Autistic but when they do mask, that’s harmful to their mental (and physical) health. #TakeTheMaskOff is a hashtag one can look into.
Acceptance over Awareness
Autism Acceptance and not Autism Awareness, please. Awareness is nothing without acceptance.
Autistics are NOT “severely lacking” in empathy.
Sensory processing differences can are very common among Autistic individuals.
Proprioception, interoception, and the vestibular system are 3 senses that it’s best to be aware of.
As previously said, autism is not an illness or disease, so please avoid using “symptoms.” “Traits” is the word you want to use.
Neurotypicals are Not a Standard for Neurodivergents
Please stop applying NT concepts and standards to ND persons. Stop trying to understand Autistics relative to NTs. Stop viewing normal through the NT lens.
- “Socially unacceptable” – according to NT standards.
- “Cold, dismissive, mean, rude” – according to NT standards because people project their idea of empathic expression onto Autistics
- “Doesn’t like to go social activities” – according to NT standards (some Autistics are and love to be social, they’re just not “appropriately” social according to NT standards or may need accommodations in order to tolerate the environment).
- “No hugs/eye contact/affection” – Some Autistic people avoid eye contact, some don’t. Some avoid physical touch. Others love it. Those who avoid those gestures have legitimate reasons which vary according to their sensory profiles. As for the affection bit, they’re not robots… they just demonstrate affection in different ways.
Autistics just communicate differently. That doesn’t mean the way they communicate is wrong. NT communication (or being NT) is not a standard NDs should strive to reach. Autistics communicate fine when people learn how to understand their unique language are actually willing to communicate in good faith.
Special interests (or #SpIns) are subjects Autistics are passionate about.
#ActuallyAutistic Facebook Pages
Following are links to Autistic pages on Facebook one might like to follow for further information by #ActuallyAutistic people themselves: