“Autistic Militancy” Created Words & Created Perceptions
Autism and Militancy The word “Neurotypical” has created a lot of problems in terms of its projection and use over the years. The implication and the “reverse” bigotry that flows with venom towards people who are “not like us” (people who are not on the spectrum) not only burns bridges but causes emotional unrest, invalidation and social-emotional friction that otherwise should not be there. The whole aspect of autism being a “culture” should not give people cart blanche or the freedom to treat others in way which could be deemed predatory, hypocritical and character destroying.
Looking at both camps in moderate and objective way offers a exception of one’s reality and openness to share differing realities, the trails, tribulations, the ups and downs etc.
* Then there’s Moderates (like me, my husband Chris and those on the spectrum and beyond who hang with us). I have gut, immune, metabolic disorders, a mood, anxiety and compulsive disorders, visual and verbal agnosias, dyslexia and I’m challenged in the info processing and learning departments BUT I’m a master of adapation and I don’t go for cure but I do believe in treatment and management for severely disabling or limited health or sensory perceptual disorders. So with me ‘normality’ is relative. You can use the word ‘disability’ and I don’t think it defines all I am. But I’m more comfortable with ‘disAbility’ and ‘disAbled’ which emphasised that I have many abilities as well as, sometimes because of my disabilities. I also use ‘diffabilities’, ‘differently abled’ and prefer to use the term ‘challenges’ rather than ‘disabilities’. When refering to those not on the autism spectrum I avoid calling them NT (I hate that reductionism). I use the term diversity-friendly as encompassing ALL diversity, not just those with labels (ie gay, deaf etc). Moderates on the spectrum are content to refer to themselves as ‘on the autism spectrum’ (happy to see ALL humans as having some elements of autism at least at some time) without seeing this as a ‘sell out’. They tend to see their autism as part of, intertwined with but not the whole of their selfhood. I use words like ‘support’ rather than ‘help’ (because support is egalitarian not paternalistic). Militant Culturalists often see moderates as undecided, weak or selling out in the battle to advocate and educate about autism.
“Culture” vs Objectivity and Realism – Why I dislike the word “NT”
Looking at what “reverse prejudice” is it is no better than what any other prejudice is reducing people to a stereotypical label and all the assumptions that go with it. Why should people off the spectrum be reduced firstly to one word and secondly that they are going to act in a certain predicable way? Also why should that be accepted a projection of hate, dislike is still a projection of hate. There is good and bad in all human beings regardless that is why I do not use the word NT nor do I see autism as a definer of someone’s overall character.
I recently did a tour through which I met some wonderfully kind, enlightened organisers and many carers and professionals who had, humbly, come to learn about alternative realities.
I met some autie spectrum people dotted about the audience, sharing rows with non-autie parents and others and many came up and met me.
At one of my lectures, though, I met some autie spectrum Aspies who came in as a group and sat, almost huddled together, away from all non-auties.
At the end of my lecture I asked ‘did you enjoy the talk’.
The leader of their group replied in a tone lacking in warmth, ‘it would have been better without any NTs present‘. The others chimed in in support of him. Alienated, I left them to it.
Later when they were buddying up with more of the same separatist rhetoric and there was a tone to it that sat uncomfortably with me, a tone I’d heard before, in hierarchical non-autie children in playgrounds once upon a time (where I’d also known nice ones).
I had to let this group know that I simply don’t do bigotry… that my non-autie friends are not typical, mundane, boring or expendable and that I refuse to use any derogatory term that hints they are such, such as ‘NT‘.
As you can imagine, they were quite taken aback. I was meant to ‘understand’. I was meant to be ‘one of them’. But if ‘one of them’ meant I was meant to hang out in a group and dislike or disrespect another group, and share this as ‘belonging’ and ‘shared culture’ and ‘shared understanding’ then this wasn’t ‘me’.
Autism has a culture that has been “created” but what people need to be aware of that the the word autism is an adjective a describer of an experience so it doesn’t define one’s own personhood nor humanity. People on the autism spectrum have personality types like ALL other people the main difference is the different types of blockages in expression and modulation. Here is a breakdown of those domains in basic terms –
- Social Emotional Alexithymia – The inability to recognise bodily sensation in terms of emotional frequency and trajectory
- Social Emotional Self and Other Processing – The inability to keep “on track” in filtering one’s own thoughts and perceptions with of another and vice versa
- Visual Perception I Simultagnosia – The inability to “see” things in the context of their relation to anything else only taking in parts of an image not “wholes”
- Visual Perception II Semantic Agnosia – The inability to “see” with visual and/or associative meaning
- Visual Perception III Prosopagnosia – The inability to recognise people by their faces
- Language Processing Aphasia/Verbal Agnosia – The level and frequency of word finding capabilities
- Body Disconnection Oral/Full Body Apraxia – The inability to construct words, sentences in terms of formation
Egalitarianism We Are All Human Beings
If you strip away the passe destructiveness of autism stereotypes, militancy, the group think, separatism, egotism, narcissism and open the door for all realities to be explored by different people, perspectives and realities it would be much healthier and less hostile place. The only “club” I feel apart of is the “human being club” it has a lot of members about 7 billion in total I like it there. Everyone is equal and if realities and opinions are going to be heard/shared there should be a sensible and objective arena for them to be explored.
Paul Isaacs 2017