I don’t really like the term ally…

That’s a weird thing to admit given how many times I’ve blogged about allies, right?

I’ll try and explain, but sometimes it’s difficult to put my thoughts into words. My dislike for the term ally can be broken down into two reasons.

People misuse the word ally

People claim to be allies while simultaneously doing things that real allies wouldn’t ever do. This happens when people say “But I am such a good ally” or “Look at how much I’ve done for you as an ally”. That usually people who claim they’re allies trip over their privilege and are called out on it. Instead of acknowledging that that has happened, they double down and defend their actions by claiming their ally merit points. It’s kind of gross really.

Can there really be allies in the neurodiversity movement?

Neurodiversity basically means all brains. In my first attempt at creating the infographic on why we need our allies, I slipped up because of that. Neurotypical people are not outside of the definition of neurodiversity. They may not be neurodivergent, but they are still included in the umbrella of neurodiversity.

The neurodiversity movement is for everyone – it’s for neurodivergent people and it’s for neurotypical people. Diversity within communities benefits everyone. Expecting some people to be allies when they’re actually part of the movement regardless of neurology seems a little pointless to me.

The neurodiversity movement isn’t synonymous with the autistic rights movement

Of course, it gets a little murkier when you consider the autistic rights movement. Yes, autistic people benefit from the assistance of allies. But – and this is a big but – too often, people who claim that they’re allies turn out not to be allies. Honestly, sometimes I think we’ll just get the thing done without the “help” of conditional allies. Sometimes, it just seems like it would be an easier thing to do rather than dealing with the fall out that happens when allies turn out to be more about themselves, and less about the rights of all autistic people.

When it comes to the neurodiversity movement, there are no allies. There can’t be allies in a movement that benefits and includes everyone. There are people within the movement and people outside of the movement, and the neurological make up of both groups of people are equally diverse. So, allies as a term and a concept: I don’t really like it from where I’m sitting.