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.
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 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
Acceptance within the autistic community can be tricky
But ultimately we all want the same thing
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.
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