What Autistic Is
What It Really Means
So what do neurotypical (not neurodiverse, such as autistic, bipolar, etc.) people really think when they hear the term "autism"? Most people, unfortunately, have perceptions of what autism is due to social conditioning that, for the most part, intentionally puts autistic people in a box that degrades our humanity in one way or another.
So when they think of the word "autistic", unfortunately, it also conjures up the same ableism. For instance, I have heard one guest in "The Doctors" television program (which airs in the US) describe autism as a "disease" and that attributing "someone with autism" as being autistic is like calling someone who has cancer "cancerous", which is both a dehumanizing and false equivalence.
The main difference is that cancer does kill, while autism doesn't. However, autistics have a higher suicide rate and face co-morbidities related to our mental and physical health. Much of this is due to the perception that autism is a disease, which lowers our overall self-esteem, resulting in other mental and physical health issues.
Thus, changing these perceptions and shifting the narrative to one of autistic empowerment is crucial to improving the well-being and health of autistic people.
Solidarity is pivotal to changing the narrative that neurotypicals and neurodiverse people, alike, have about what being autistic really means. So how can you, either as a neurotypical ally or someone who's neurodiverse do this?
Understand that language matters.
Listen to autistic voices.
End inspiration porn.
Refrain from using terms, such as "idiot" or the r-word to describe people. This also extends to helping reduce the stigma attached to intellectual disability.
With the pivotal role of identity politics as of late, it is no surprise that the autistic community has come to embrace the simple narrative of listening and uplifting autistic voices. This entails giving autistic people a platform to create, to tell our stories, and do so in a way that doesn't just serve to "feel good" but, rather, serves the higher purpose of transparency in highlighting the real struggles that autistic people face.
Finally, Inspiration porn is the perceived uplifting of disabled people by hyping up their accomplishments while also using their disability as a cautionary tale to encourage non-disabled people to "do better" as someone who is disabled can do this thing. This involves the detachment of accomplishments by disabled people from their disability in an attempt to accentuate the challenges of that disabled person while, simultaneously, minimizing the actual work that disabled person has put into accomplishing said feat.
However, we must acknowledge that this all takes real work to accomplish. For neurotypicals, this may mean the following:
Questioning your own perceptions of what autism really is.
Questioning yoru assumptions about autistic people and our experiences.
Rethinking the ways that you interact with autistic people or how your actions may or may not impact autistic people's quality of life.
At the same time, autistic people also need to think about the following to truly unleash our potential as a community:
Think about your legacy as an autistic adult. Like it, or not, you are, or will become, a role model for younger autistic people. You have the power to improving conditions for our community.
Neurotypicals must have the courage to challenge other neurotypicals when they engage in ableism, as well as rethink their own ableism. Autistics, on the other hand, must understand that we are a community, and not just ourselves. Together, we can change the narrative of what being autistic really means.
How Do Shortlinks Work?
Shortlinks are folder-level redirects that forward to an existing website or web page and function in the following format: domain.tld/keyword. At this website, shortlinks use both the "autistic.is" and the "woke.us" domain names (domain.tld). For instance, the keyword I created for my website was "chrisfornesa". Thus, autistic.is/chrisfornesa and woke.us/chrisfornesa go to the same website.
The intent for these shortlinks is to feature and uplift autistic voices by giving them access to a united web presence on existing platforms where they either do or feature their existing (and amazing) work.
How To Request a Shortlink
You can request a shortlink using the "Request Shortlink" form below in the Contact section of this website. This form requests your name, your proposed shortlink keyword, your email address, a space for the destination URL for your website, social media link, etc., and your message. While the fields are mostly self-explanatory, for the "Message" field, why you would like this shortlink to go to the website stated as the destination URL.
Once you have done this, please be patient and understand that I may not be able to get back to you immediately. However, I will attempt to do so as soon as possible as having a web presence is vital in self-advocacy today.
Get In Touch
Use this form to get in touch with me. Take this as permission to use me as a resource for you to learn more about what being autistic really means.
You may also use this form if you are an autistic person and you are in need of information on resources catered to the autistic community.
And, as many autistic people use the social model of disability to self-identify as autistic (due to factors such as distrust of medical institutions, affordability, access [or lack thereof] to an, otherwise, qualified professional, etc.), feel free to reach out and ask about resources in making this determination.
Use this form to request a shortlink to show the world that being autistic is a definite part of who you are. This link can go to any website or web page that profiles your experiences as an autistic person. What being autistic is, after all, is about #ActuallyAutistic people reclaiming the autism narrative.
Note that I will do my best to respond promptly, however, I don't always have the spoons to do so as soon as possible. In any case, I will make sure to respond (at some point) and let you know whether (or not) your request has been approved!