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Autistic Commonality and the Illusion of “Quirky”

Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com Some people insist on describing the autistic spectrum as ranging from the non-speaking and very profoundly disabled, to the “just quirky.” Or, during discussions about the need for acceptance and accommodation, the same people might tell autistic self-advocates, “That may be fine for autistic people like you who are just quirky, but you’re not like my child.” Some of those same people even insist that autistic people who are “just quirky” should probably have a different label than ‘autism’ altogether. Meanwhile research shows “camoflauging” influences autistic suicidality [image: Screenshot of a tweet. The icon and user name are blurred. The tweet reads, “If u can”disguise” your autism then imo u cannot possibly have autism. #NeedRealDiagnoses #SuckItGroupingEveryoneUnderOneLabel #FocusOnObjectiveReality”] But I actually wouldn’t mind if the word “quirky” were to disappear entirely from autism discussions, and take with it the dismissive and simplistic idea that autism is a…

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Why Belittling Self-Advocates Hurts Autistic People of All Ages and Abilities

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [image: Screenshot of Inigo Montoya and Vizzini from the movie The Princess Bride, with white overlaid block text reading, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.] Last week, the San Francisco Autism Society of America (SFASA) held its 16th annual conference at Stanford University. In her opening comments, Jill Escher, the president of SFASA, went through a few words and phrases, claiming to “defuse some autism vocabulary stinkbombs.” I disagree with so much of what she said about … well, about pretty much everything she talked about. But I want to focus in on one word that I feel she completely misrepresented on so many levels that it was mind-boggling: Self-advocate Escher chose to show a 20 second video clip of her son to the audience, to illustrate her lack of understanding of the meaning and expression of…

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Supposed “High Functioning” Autism, and Maladaptive Behaviors

Kaelynn Partlow Facebook.com/AutisticAngle I’m an adult with supposed “high functioning” autism. I drive my own car, and for the most part, I have many self help skills. There is nothing obviously different about the way I speak. I also work as a therapist, with young autistic children. Due to the nature of my job, I am required to get a tuberculuosis (TB) test every year. The test involves a needle, and I’ve had a severe phobia of needles for as long as I can remember. To be perfectly honest, I’ve always had a general phobia when it comes to medical procedures, even the painless ones. So, when it came time for my yearly test, my supervisor accompanied me to provide extra support. She and I have been close for several years and she has been there to support me in many other ways, even before my employment. In the waiting…

Too Noisy

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today’s story is from Kathryn Hedges, about how noisy environments can disrupt her ability to process and function. Kathryn Hedges www.khedges.com I don’t fit the autistic stereotypes people learn from “autism awareness” campaigns: I’m an adult female who can converse with you (most of the time) and live independently with fewer supports than the average non-autistic person. (At least based on the number of times a week people tell me their friends or family did XYZ for them so why don’t I ask mine for help.) I’ve worked hard as an adult to learn social skills, which helps hide my autism and give me a veneer of “high functioning” over my interior “low functioning” with sensory issues and emotional regulation. One of the most disabling aspects of…