“But anyway, we have seen a few discussions going around lately about how non-autistic professionals tend to say autism is about impaired socialization, “theory of mind,” stereotyped repetitive behaviors, etc. While autistic people say that it’s about profound differences in cognition, perception, and communication. (And often the autistic people disagreeing with the professionals about this, are the ones who’ve been labeled as severely affected or low-functioning or thought by other people at some point in their life to be incapable of understanding what was going on around them. And no, these things are not mutually exclusive with having been labeled high-functioning, mildly affected, etc at some other point in a person’s life.) And… one other thing we’ve noticed is this: Autistic people who believe that autism is primarily a deficiency in social skills, “theory of mind,” etc, often tend to be more unhappy than autistic people who believe (as we do) that the most important aspects of it are profound differences in perception, cognition, and communication. To actually have a lower “quality of life,” when it comes to what they want versus what they have. And this probably has a lot to do with the fact that they have been taught to believe that their entire life is going to consist of trying to strive after Almost Normal even though they will never quite get all the way there.”
— amorpha&, Things that make us headdesk (reading the whole thing is good for context)
This is FANTASTIC.
I have often thought about how the aspects of autism that get most stressed by allistic people, by professionals, by the way diagnostic symptoms are weighted, etc. are the ones that affect allistic people. Actually, “affect” isn’t the right word - the ones that allistic people find most annoying and bothersome. Read: differences in body language, not fitting into social norms when it comes to social skills, not demonstrating the coded behaviours that equal “empathy” for a lot of people in the normative way, etc. etc.
I used to think I was weird for going “well, the social stuf? Annoying, yes, but I can deal with it. It’s not actually the part of autism that has the biggest impact on my life.” In fact, it’s third place on my mental list, after executive dysfunction and sensory issues. But I’ve run into a number of other autistic people who think similarly. On the allistic side, it’s all social stuff all the time. Sensory stuff is only a problem, to them, if it makes us behave in non-NT ways in public (via, for instance, melting down due to overwhelming and painful amounts of noise). If I end up unable to go to loads of social events because they take place in environments that are too noisy for me (this being the reason I made no real friends at all my first year at uni), that’s invisible to them and therefore not important. Executive dysfunction isn’t even on most people’s radars at all, and that’s the thing that keeps me up at night, makes me wonder if I’m capable of keeping a job. Frequently, I see allistic people attacking autistic coping strategies without which they would have a much harder time as Bad Because You Look Autistic (stims, routines).
Obviously there are autistic people who have more issues with the social stuff than I do, who would say that it’s the thing that has the biggest impact on their life. But I doubt there’s enough to justify the relentless focus on it and brushing other issues under the carpet you see from the allistic side… the priorities are just totally out of whack, and out of whack in a very nasty way that marginalises the experiences of the actual people they claim to be talking about in favour of centring allistic ones.
Also, some of the other stuff in that post just reaffirms me in my belief that passing “privilege” isn’t a privilege at all.