Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological development disorder a person is born with, but is autism a disability?
Is autism a disability?
Autism is considered a developmental disability by the medical community. Each individual autistic person defines for themselves whether autism is a disability, and that answer varies over time.
Disabilities are not bad, and disabled people prefer identity-first (disabled person) language over person-first (person with disability) language. The term “differently abled” is also considered offensive.
Since it is also not a disease, autistic people do not need to be cured.
Many people think the autism spectrum is a straight line, but it’s actually a circle with varying degrees of top autism traits.
I tend to score higher on autism tests, so this spectrum result is not what every result looks like.
Effects of autism
Autism affects how a person thinks, learns, communicates, behaves, and experiences the world around them.
Double empathy problem
Autistic “impairments” are actually a mutual failure in reaching consensus through bidirectional empathy, also known as the double empathy problem:
Non-autistic people struggle to empathize with autistic people and vice versa, because of different perceived life experiences. Scientists call this the double empathy problem.
There is no box for autistic people. They are neurologically incapable of thinking inside the box, no matter how hard they try.
They also don’t lack a Theory of Mind, as autistic people empathize well with other autistic people.
Nothing frustrates autistic people more than struggling to comprehend why non-autistic people do the things they do. They also don’t understand why autistic people are the “weird” and “abnormal” ones whiles non-autistic people have inconsistent morals.
Take comfort in knowing autistic people are just as baffled by you as you are them.
Relationships and communication
Autistic people are happier with fellow autistic people, because they do not have to camouflage or mask, which is a direct path to autism burnout.
Peer-to-peer information transfer between autistic people is more effective than autistic to non-autistic people.
Neurotypical adults hold negative attitudes towards autistic adults. Likewise, many autistic adults do not maintain relationships with their parents due to childhood trauma.
Autistic people are easier to manipulate, which puts them at a risk for being taken advantage of financially, emotionally and physically. They may be too trusting and put themselves in dangerous situations or “traps”.
For example, I was almost abducted at 29 because I didn’t know the situation was not normal. I didn’t know to never go into an isolated area (parking garage) when picking up Facebook Marketplace items. I was lucky to have brought someone with me out of my fear of driving to unknown places.
Common sense relies heavily on reading between the lines. Autistic people think literally and substitute context on literal meanings of words and phrases when they lack specific context. They struggle to recognize lies.
Autistic people’s quality of life
When autistic people commit suicide in their 30s, it is often due to feelings of burdensomeness, loneliness, and not being understood by the people around them.
Autistic adults have poorer quality healthcare and worse health. Autistic women are more prone to chronic illness, because doctors don’t acknowledge sensory sensitivities. Menstrual cycles make autistic life harder to manage.
Restrictive eating disorders are also common in autistic women, due to sensory issues with food, societal pressures, and possibly alexithymia.
Lack of autism acceptance contributes to an autistic person’s quality of life, as do social and financial factors.
Autistic people experience trauma as a direct result of being autistic, in addition to other childhood trauma variables.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy requires children to maintain a full-time job, often coupled with school (so two full-time jobs). ABA is connected to gay conversion therapy, and even the new ABA is problematic.
Autistic girls are more likely to be sexually assaulted. Society raises women to be compliant. Autistic people learn how to behave by watching people and television. They do not always know when they are being flirted with.
An estimated 85 percent (minimum) number of autistic adults are unemployed. Although disabled people are entitled to equal opportunities, Equal Opportunity Employers will fight against accommodations.
Many autistic individuals struggle to function in employment settings due to environmental conditions. Sensory overload and social interactions with non-autistic people drain energy.
Employers may appreciate autistic employees in the beginning for their benefits. However, the moment even the slightly unfavorable autistic traits show, their job is at risk.
Autistic people struggle to determine if or when they should disclose their autism. The default recommendation is to never disclose, but that requires masking.
Remote work is another solution, though the remote job market is competitive.
The most popular solution to the autistic income dilemma is self-employment. Autistic entrepreneurs construct their own work environment, stim freely and schedule their work around their needs. Business aspects they struggle to learn are instead outsourced.
Formerly known as nonverbal autism, non-speaking autism is broken into two parts.
Non-speaking autism is the new term for nonverbal autism. Nonverbal means “without words”, which is inaccurate because autistic people are not without words. Non-speaking autism means an autistic person doesn’t speak.
Intermittently non-speaking autism is when an autistic person varies between speaking and non-speaking. Autistic people who unmask may find speaking doesn’t feel natural and seek alternative communication methods. Their ability to speak is irrelevant.
If you want your non-speaking autistic child to start speaking, be patient. You are more likely to receive results without speech therapy. If you require an autistic child to learn to speak, they will associate speaking with bad memories (trauma).
Not speaking is not a direct disability, as the non-speaking Deaf community is not disabled.
Non-intellectually disabled autistic children might one day start speaking if you do not actively display that you want it. Accept them for who they are now.
Frequently asked questions about autism
How is this article helpful in your understanding of autism? Do you consider autism a disability? Share in the comments below.
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