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Autistic Reflection

neuroatypicals need to realize that neurotypicals don’t primarily communicate in the same ways (analogies, patterns, etc) and develop tools for communicating in ways that are more easily understood by neurotypicals if they want to fit in better.

This statement is so offensive and ableist it is beyond the pale. What this statement says, is that if I want to be accepted as a human being, equal to other human beings and included in society, I need to adopt a neurotypical way of speaking, processing speech and express non-verbal communications. I.e I need to behave like a neurotypical person, appear to be neurotypical, I need to become neurotypical. That is like saying that a black person, to be accepted as a human being, equal to other human beings and included in society, needs to become white.

The above quoted statement was made by a person with physical disabilities, in response to a discussion that covered why I may not use physical disabilities as analogous with Autism –  unless I accept ABA as a valid treatment for Autism.

What the above quoted statement is talking about is assimilation. Assimilation is when a minority group make themselves indistinguishable from the majority group in order to appease and achieve tolerance for their existence. Assimilation is not inclusion. Assimilation is living life in disguise.

I do not want Autistic people to assimilate, any more than I want black or gay people to assimilate. I want neurotypical society to practice inclusion. Autistic people should not be expected to undergo years of painful and intrusive behavioral therapy (ABA) to be accepted and included in society.

But we are. Thanks to the idea expressed in the initial quote. Because some disabled people went through years of physical therapy, or speech therapy, to become less visibly disabled and thus assimilated and ‘accepted’, Autistic people should too.

That sort of thinking reminds me of the Chinese tradition of binding women’s feet for the sake of fashion and class expectations. Mothers would forcibly bind their daughter’s feet, despite knowing how painful it was – because they had had their feet bound, and because it was expected by society. The practice of foot-binding was fortunately been abandoned in the mid 19th century.

It is time that we abandon the idea that disabled people must undergo painful and intrusive physical or behavioral therapies to be included in society as equal human beings with equal human rights.

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