[CN: Functioning labels; Example of racism]
People can be very predictable. Because interpreting social situations as they occur is problematic for me, I tend to focus on patterns to predict people’s responses. People inevitably fulfill those patterns.
One very noticeable pattern is the reaction that people have to posts or memes that call for acceptance, or call out ableist and ignorant attitudes. Inevitably, someone will respond
“But, what about those other autistic kids?”
“What about those people who are severely affected by autism?”
“I can accept my child, but I know other parents whose children are a lot worse than mine”
or a variety of responses that can be summarised with the statement “Acceptance is only for those autistics who act neurotypical enough.”
All of those questions and statements are completely and absolutely wrong.
1. Functioning labels are completely inaccurate and ableist.
Many people have addressed this before so I don’t think I need to repeat their words. If you would like to know why they’re inaccurate and why they’re ableist, you can take a look at:
- Amythest Schaber – Ask an Autistic (YouTube)
- Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean
- Autistic Hoya
- Musings of an Aspie
- Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance (Facebook)
2. Acceptance is not conditional.
If you only accept some of a group of people, and not all of them, then that’s not acceptance.
To illustrate this, let’s look at racism. Imagine if people were to go around saying “We only accept black people if they speak English like white people, dress in the same type of clothing as white people, and behave in the same way as white people.” Would that mean that the person saying that is not racist? I know that some people do actually think things like that, but those people are still racist.
We cannot base acceptance of people of colour on how closely they can conform to the standards of white people. We cannot based acceptance of autistic people on how closely they can conform to the standards of neurotypical people.
3. People who make conditional acceptance statements assume too much.
People who say those sorts of conditional acceptance statements assume that the person who posted whatever they’re responding to is not one of ‘those other’ autistic people. They assume that if a parent calls for acceptance, then that that parent does not have one of ‘those other’ autistic kids. That assumption is problematic because without revealing exceptionally personal details, we can’t really address that assumption. I can assure you that people who call for acceptance are not doing so based on incomplete knowledge of autism.
If you find yourself rushing to the comments section to type a conditional acceptance question or statement there, stop and ask yourself: Is that true acceptance, or do you still have some ableism to work through?