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  • Kristy Forbes

The Neurodiversity movement is a perspective, not a set of rules

Updated: Feb 25


The Neurodiversity Movement changed my life.

It changed my relationship with myself, my relationship with my children

And my relationship with autism.

It has been the catalyst for change, and our paradigm shift as a family.

I talk about it a lot.

A whole lot.

I really love everything about it.

And I read a lot of articles written about it, criticising it, and to be honest, those articles are often really poorly informed.

But here’s something that I want to make known about me..

I appreciate and respect an autistic person’s right to choose.

I respect their right and their freedom to choose how they identify, how autism fits for them, what being autistic means to them, whether they use person first or identity first language, whether they consider being autistic a disability for them, or not.

Acceptance isn’t a one way street.

And one of the very reasons the ND movement has copped such a hard time is because it has, at times, been received as a set of demands that are totally unbendable, that are aggressive and push accountability and responsibility onto society for change.

And that sucks.

Because it’s about empowering a community of people, a minority, an incredibly luminous (I use that word a lot when I talk about autistics) population of human beings who have been overlooked and invalidated.

It’s an outreach, an outstretched hand that invites the autistic community (and many other neurodiverse communities) to belong.

Sometimes, for the first time in a person’s life,

They have a sense of belonging. I love the Neurodiversity movement.

That will never change.

I love anything that encompasses every single being and accepts them as diverse,

Appreciates and brings their greatest qualities into light.

Yep, there is a but.

But..

For some of us, being autistic can mean having a very strong will to adhere to rules.

And I’ve seen many a time, the values of the ND movement seen as rules.

I’ve seen people corrected in the ways they choose to identify.

I’ve seen people bullied.

There is no right or wrong way to be autistic.

It isn’t a club that you have to apply to in order to belong.

It’s a neurotype, a neurodivergence, a brain type

That actually, we are born with and don’t have a choice about.

Many people don’t want to be told what to do

How to identify

What to think

How to speak

What language to use

And it is no different for autistic people.

There are words, there is a language that I feel triggered by.

Disorder language: ASD, “with autism”, and many therapy terminologies

And here’s how I handle it..

When I’m asked about my feelings, my beliefs and my views on autism

On language

On being autistic

I tell the truth.

I stand in my truth.

Sometimes it’s really scary and takes serious courage

I share from my heart

With love, acceptance, patience and compassion

I’ve said things such as “I’m not comfortable with being referred to that way” and “I don’t like the word ‘intervention’”, among many other personal beliefs and feelings I have

And I’ve been ripped apart a few times by others

But my truth, my experience does not change.

Sometimes I feel concern for those who might feel corrected

Or feel as though I’m making them wrong

But I’m not.

Not if you’re autistic.

It’s your brain and your being, it’s your experience, it’s your life

You choose.

Acceptance within the autistic community can be tricky

But ultimately we all want the same thing

ACCEPTANCE.

Validation, understanding, true understanding.

I am autistic.

I am not a disorder.

I am often disabled by my autistic characteristics in combination with cultural and social expectations

I advocate for support, not compliance

Actualisation, not normalisation

And I recognise that we are all on a journey,

All at different points.

Processing.

Being autistic, coming to terms with what that means,

Is constantly shifting and evolving for me as a person.

Autistic people need space, freedom, time, autonomy

In order to process and learn

A bombardment of rules and corrections

Shut us down.

This is a process.

For those of us diagnosed in our adults years

We are unlearning and processing an entire lifetime

Through new eyes.

I will be patient, I will be understanding, I will support.

And I invite others within the autistic community to as well.

It hurts me to think any autistic person would not have access to their own community for fear of being shut down.

We must look after our own.

I love the Neurodiversity Movement.

But it’s a perspective; not the only way.

And we cannot expect acceptance if we are not prepared to offer it. . . . . Kristy Forbes Autism & Neurodiversity Support Specialist inTune Pathways


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