Or just an autistic, in general.
As an autistic author, I’ve always prized inclusivity, diversity and unique own voices.
Talking openly about being an autistic author, my experiences, my journey is just one way to hopefully educate and prevent the many misconceptions that can be damaging and insulting. Sometimes, it’s necessary to put it bluntly and plainly in a list of does and don’ts.
Not an all-encompassing list, of course. And my experiences as an autistic may differ from another.
If you’ve met one autistic, you’ve met one autistic.
- Tell them they don’t seem autistic.
- Tell them it’s ‘person with autism.’
- Suggest a cure. Don’t. By suggesting a cure, suggests to us that you wish we weren’t alive.
- Bring up Autism Speaks. (https://intheloopaboutneurodiversity.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/the-ableist-history-of-autism-speaks/)
- Treat them like they’re a child and can’t understand what you’re saying.
- Tell them their autistic characters aren’t realistic because they’re not like your child/relative/friend.
- Insist they’re ‘so brave.’ Seriously. Don’t.
- Email them with your expertise on autism despite the fact that you’re not actually autistic.
- Ask them if they’ve tried a gluten-free diet.
- Suggest yoga might make everything better.
For a point of reference, these are all things I’ve been personally told either by friends, family, authors, or readers. Some have been emailed directly to me. Others were said in person. Some have been directed to me on social media.
What can you do?
- A quick search on Google will find Autistic bloggers and Autistic-led organisations with loads of resources. Here’s one of my favourites: https://autisticadvocacy.org/
- Be patient in conversation with us. Auditory processing disorder is something a lot of autistics deal with, we may need you to repeat yourself for us to catch up.
- Meet us halfway. We’re doing our best in a non-autistic world, educating yourself can help bridge the gap.
- Extend invitations to us. We might not always say yes but no one enjoys being excluded.
**Thanks to my beloved friend and publisher for giving me a hand with the wording of this post**