I’ve seen the different kinds of autism labeling. “Autistic people are egocentric and it makes it difficult for friends and family to be around them”, “High functioning”, “Low functioning”, “selfish”, “Intellectual disability”, “Repetitive behavior”, “Restricted interests”, etc. So you may be wondering, what is so damaging about these labels? Here are the reasons why.
It puts down autistic people’s struggles, labeling an autistic person’s stimming as “repetitive behavior” does not validate that the autistic person is trying to cope by stimming. It implies that there is something wrong with the autistic person. It causes an autistic person to feel bad about themselves, we already try so hard to cope and it can take so much work for an autistic person to be able to move forward and achieve goals, and to say an autistic person is “egocentric” is extremely hurtful.
A lot of time autistic people have too much empathy, we do not lack empathy. I have empathy and can feel the same feeling of empathy towards another person as others do. Another thing labels can do is cause an autistic person to lose their identity, their sense of purpose, and shutdown. I myself have gone through this recently. As in someone telling me that I’d be “Scared to death if they found a cure for autism”. It became so bad that I thought about deleting my blog.
Instead of labeling why not try to help autistic people, why not accept us as who we are? Many of us have strengths that the world needs. Temple Grandin mentions that many autistic’s work in Silicon Valley, if we didn’t have autistic people in the world, we probably would not have the technology and ideas we have today. Albert Einstein was autistic, and he made great contributions to society.
I’m tired of ableist remarks, I’m tired of hearing “You shouldn’t be proud to be autistic!” I’m tired of hearing the labels. And I’m tired of people trying to control my beliefs and saying I shouldn’t believe in neurodiversity. I believe in neurodiversity because I believe autistic people should be accepted, I believe that autistic people have been on earth longer than we think and that we are here for a reason. I do believe that some things need assistance such as supportive friends, treatment for anxiety, depression and other comorbid conditions that come with being autistic. But I do not believe that we should be using labels, I think we should ditch them!
Each label I will throw into the fire. I am not “High functioning”, “Low functioning”, or “Egocentric”. I do not have an “Intellectual disability”. I am who I am, and I’m proud of it! I’m proud of the goals I have achieved in life and I will continue to work towards those goals. I am #autisticandproudofit!
Labels damage autistic people, ditch the labels, autistic people deserve better. We are humans too!