If you are wondering whether you are Autistic, spend time amongst Autistic people, online and offline. If you notice you relate to these people much better than to others, if they make you feel safe, and if they understand you, you have arrived.A communal definition of Autistic ways of being
The concept of Neurodiversity is the diversity of human minds, the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodiversity is a biological fact. It’s not a perspective, an approach, a... and the process of psychiatric diagnosis are fundamentally incompatible with one another.
Either you actually believe Autism, ADHD or what I prefer to call Kinetic Cognitive Style (KCS) is another good example. (Nick Walker coined this alternative term.) The name ADHD implies that Kinetics like me have..., and etc are neutral sources of diversity deserving of acceptance in society, or you think they are disorders that must be diagnosed — but it makes no sense to try and claim both those things simultaneously.
For decades a diagnosis of gender identity disorder was required to “really” be trans. But outside of that psychiatric gatekeeping system (which claimed absurd things like that gay trans people don’t exist) there were thousands & thousands of trans people existing as themselves.
A gender identity diagnosis disorder was never what made a person trans. In fact, that diagnostic process shut the majority of trans people out. Requiring diagnosis was counter to trans liberation and acceptance. The exact same is true of Autism.
Self diagnosis is not just “valid” — it is liberatory. When we define our community ourselves and wrest our right to self-definition back from the systems that painted us as abnormal and sick, we are powerful, and free.
You can pursue formal diagnosis if you want, for legal protection and educational access. It will never be what makes you Autistic. If you’re uncertain whether you are, meet more of us and join in community with us. We need eachother far more than we need psychiatric approval.Dr. Devon Price
If you’re There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... this book, you probably suspect that you or someone you know is a Masking is exhausting. Utterly utterly draining. I’ve had people say to me many times over the years “But WHY are you so tired? What have you been doing?” and I’ve... Autistic, or otherwise neurodiverse. I have been writing about my own journey of Autistic self-discovery for many years now, and every single time I post online about it, I’m inundated with messages from people who are questioning whether they’re on the spectrum, and want my advice on how to find out. Usually, their first question is how to get tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. My initial response to that is to present them with three questions:
Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
- Do you have health insurance that covers Autism assessments?
- Can you find an Autism assessment specialist in your area who has a proven track record of working successfully with Autistic adults?
- What do you hope to get out of a formal diagnosis?
The first and second questions can prove quite dispiriting to answer. In the United States, many health insurance plans do not cover Autism assessment in adults. A limited number of specialists are qualified to assess and diagnose Autism (your average psychologist can’t do it), and the diagnostic process typically involves multiple tests, screening surveys, and even interviews with the Autistic person’s family and friends. Without insurance coverage, this process can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000.
Even when a person can afford to be assessed, identifying a specialist who knows how to diagnose Autistic adults can be prohibitively difficult. My friend Seb (who’s in their mid-twenties) sought out an assessment in the UK and was subjected to tests clearly designed for small kids. A therapist asked Seb to arrange various toys on a table and make up stories about them (this is part of a common diagnostic tool called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, or the ADOS, and it was developed for use in children). A questionnaire was given to Seb’s mother to fill out, and Seb wasn’t permitted to look at what she’d said. They were completely disempowered by the whole process. Some people whom I interviewed for this book reported being turned away by multiple assessors, for things as simple as being a woman, dressing well, or having voices that weren’t completely monotonous. Sometimes assessors decide to give adults labels they view as less stigmatizing, such as nonverbal learning disorder, rather than identifying them as Autistic explicitly.
“I had to see two specialists,” Crystal tells me. “The first one said basically the same thing my grandpa used to say: girls usually aren’t Autistic. You’re doing fine in life. Don’t worry about it.”
To this day, a majority of Autism assessment tools are based on the decades-old ones developed for white male children from wealthy and middle-class families. With years of clinical experience, some experts learn to recognize Autism in those who Masking is exhausting. Utterly utterly draining. I’ve had people say to me many times over the years “But WHY are you so tired? What have you been doing?” and I’ve.... They may know, for example, that masked Autistics can make eye contact, though many of us stare too strongly by The existence of the word neurotypical makes it possible to have conversations about topics like neurotypical privilege. Neurotypical is a word that allows us to talk about members of the... standards, or for too long. They might understand that Autistic women and people of color have to appear friendly as a means of survival, so their tone of voice might not be totally flat. Perhaps they’re even aware of Autism’s link with substance If addiction is like misguided love, then compassion is a far better approach than punishment.Can You Get Over an Addiction? - The New York Times In her book Unbroken Brain,... and eating disorders, particularly among people who have to fake neurotypicality all day long at their jobs. However, these facts are not a core part of how assessors are trained, and many spend their entire careers reinforcing old sexist, white supremacist notions of how the disability looks.
This brings me to my third question: what do you hope to get out of being formally diagnosed? It can come with serious social and legal benefits under the In 1990, the ADA, which today remains the cornerstone of disability civil rights law in the United States, established four goals for disabled Americans: equal opportunity, independent living, full participation,... (and laws in other countries like it), and other antidiscrimination statutes worldwide. You might hope that people will take your problems more seriously when a psychiatrist has validated them. A formal diagnosis means you can receive disability Accommodation is fundamentally about not changing the person but changing the environment around the person.Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences Yet on a programmatic... at school or work, and you can pursue a legal case if an employer or landlord shows documentable signs of bias against you. In some places a diagnosis can qualify you for a medical marijuana card, or a therapy animal. Family members who have told you that you’re whiny and Laziness does not exist.People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and... may finally get off your case when they realize you have a developmental disorder. A therapist or medical The activities that constitute care are crucial for human life. We defined care in this way: Care is "a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue,... provider may tailor their treatment of you to your neurotype. These are the kinds of outcomes many Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... people hope for when they pursue formal recognition.Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
It has long been Acceptance means training mental health service providers to look at autism and other disabilities as a part of a person's identity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. Acceptance... that diagnosis is a To not have conversations because they make you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege. Your comfort is not at the center of this discussion.Brené Brown Power can be understood as... that many are not afforded. What is not discussed is how diagnosis itself feeds into the When it comes to human neurodiversity, the dominant paradigm in the world today is what I refer to as the pathology paradigm. The long-term well-being and empowerment of Autistics and members of... that has surrounded Autistic people since Autism was first conceptualised. Requiring that a person be diagnosed Autistic is in and of itself a pathologisation of that neurocognitive-style.
One no longer expects a Being queer means constantly questioning what's considered "normal" and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. It means criticizing who sets these norms and recognizing the privilege... person to be diagnosed with a disorder or condition, and yet we strive to be diagnosed as Autistic. While I recognise the privilege that having a diagnosis has given me, and I admit that my diagnostic paperwork saying “condition” instead of “disorder” filled me with joy; it has taken me some time to realise that my need to be diagnosed was in fact a perpetuation of medical models and pathologisation. You don’t need a licence to be Autistic. Formal diagnosis doesn’t magically alter the brain.The New Normal: Autistic musings on the threat of a broken societys
Being Autistic is an identity based on a specific neurology. It is not inherently good or bad. There is nothing to be fixed or cured, so why force people to acquire a diagnosis? If a person largely identifies with the core experiences of being Autistic, then why should we deny them the right to identify as who they are? Should we not have accepted by now, in the 21st century, that neurodiversity is a natural phenomenon, and not a collection of ailments requiring intervention. The attitudes that surround the invalidation of the self-identified are nearly always rooted in internalised able·ism /ˈābəˌlizəm/ nounA system of assigning value to people's bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply... and stigma.
Of course, a move away from diagnostic approaches would undermine what I would refer to as “the autism industrial complex” which largely consists of behavioural therapies and quack biomedical solutions, sold as the only way to separate your neurotypical child from the autism that has infected them. That industry has positioned itself as lord and master of Autistic people’s lives, and to step away from the pathology paradigm would be to cut the strings in their marionette show.
Indeed, when one considers all the harm that the pathology paradigm has done, it seems to me that a world where being Autistic requires a medical diagnosis is not one designed in any way to accommodate Autistic people. It is designed to serve a capitalist system that seeks to turn people into commodities to be bought, sold, and altered. I am a person, not a product.
Should the neurodiversity movement wish to achieve its aims of acceptance and equitable treatment for all neurotypes, then we must strive to move away from all medicalisation of the natural diversity of minds. Until this is done, the neurodiversity movement can not succeed. We must strive for a world where neuronormativity is abhorred in the same way that Our friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... is in our current society.
I am not sick or broken, I do not require fixing. All Autistics have a right to life, no matter how “inconvenient” that life is for those around them. We must not accept a world where Autistic people are treated as second class citizens.
The medical model needs to die, and from it’s grave I hope that a new paradigm will spring anew.The New Normal: Autistic musings on the threat of a broken societys
Unfortunately, a diagnosis is not a guarantee you will receive any of these benefits. Proving in a court of law that you’ve been discriminated against as an Autistic person requires extensive documentation and is prohibitively expensive to pursue for most The label "disabled" means so much to me. It means I have community. It means I have rights. It means I can be proud. It means I can affirm myself... people. Even though a diagnosed disability entitles you to accommodations on paper, many employers and educators refuse to provide them, or mistreat the employees and students who request them (for more on the limitations of the In 1990, the ADA, which today remains the cornerstone of disability civil rights law in the United States, established four goals for disabled Americans: equal opportunity, independent living, full participation,... and its inconsistent enforcement, see Chapter 8). And as much as I’d like to promise that being recognized formally as an Autistic will get judgmental friends and family off your back, I’ve heard too many counter-examples to claim that’s really the case. Your family members may find your disability even more threatening once it’s validated by a doctor, or they might use your diagnosis to undermine your judgment or infantilize you. This isn’t intended to dissuade you from seeking a diagnosis; I just don’t want anyone to have the impression that a piece of paper signed by a psychiatrist magically unlocks a suite of resources and social respect.
Additionally, an Autism diagnosis does not grant you access to any particular therapy or medication, because there are no Evidence-based practice is the process of identifying the best available evidence to make decisions about practices that should be deployed to support individuals in a given population (McKibbon, 1998, see Vivanti,... treatments for Autism in adults. Most therapists are not trained to work with Autistic adults, and many of them harbor very shallow, outdated understandings of what the neurotype is. Even those who do specialize in Autism are usually trained primarily in working with Autistic kids, “helping” them to behave in a more agreeable, passive fashion. Here in Chicago, I’m aware of just one therapist who is competent in treating Autistic adults who mask, and the only reason I know they’re competent is that other Autistic people have vouched for them to me. I do know several mental health providers in other cities who have confessed to me privately that they are Autistic, and love working with fellow Autistic patients. However, each of them has told me they cannot openly identify as Autistic professionally. There’s too great a risk that their colleagues would view them as incompetent or unprofessional if they were open about their Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite....
Of course, even the idea of pursuing a treatment “for” Autism is predicated on the idea we are broken or sick. This is an idea the neurodiversity movement completely rejects. There is no medication for Autism, no cure for it, and no way of changing one’s neurotype. As a community, most Autistics oppose attempts to “fix” us. There are some modifications that can be made to existing therapeutic methods, to make them a better fit for Autistic adults, but unless a provider takes the time to self-educate, they may be unaware such modified treatments exist. For the most part, learning you’re Autistic is a journey of self-acceptance, community building, and growing self-advocacy, and you might not need or want a diagnosis to go down that path.
For all the reasons outlined above, I firmly support Autistic Self-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and.... I prefer the terms self-determination or self-realization to self-diagnosis, because I believe it’s more sensible to view Autistic identity through a social lens than a strictly medical one. Diagnosis is a gatekeeping process, and it slams its heavy bars in the face of anyone who is too poor, too busy, too Black, too feminine, too queer, and too gender nonconforming, among others. The Autistics who lack access to fair diagnoses need solidarity and justice the most desperately out of all of us, and we can’t just shut them out.Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
Living in our global industrialised society is traumatising, especially for hypersensitive Autistic people, and this has increasingly been the case since the earliest days of industrialisation, even before the term “autism” entered the vocabulary of the medical profession.
Adults seeking a diagnosis of autism are often looking for an explanation of their lived experience, which often includes highly traumatic experiences, in many cases starting in childhood. Parents seeking a diagnosis for their child are typically driven by the fear that their child won’t be able to “succeed” in the competitive world of so-called education, jobs, careers, and social status.
A global multi billion dollar autism industry has been built on the backs of Autistic people and is critically dependent on the ongoing traumatisation of Autistic people. This is glaringly obvious in terms of the perpetuation of traumatising behaviourismthat is sold as a “treatment for autism” to the parents of Autistic children, but it is not always quite as obvious in relation to the “treatment” of Autistic adults.
Discrimination against Autistic people is comparable to the level of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people 50 years ago. The pathologisation of Autistic ways of beinghas led to what some critical researchers refer to as the Autism Industrial Complex.
In this discriminatory cultural environment, many services from the autism industry must be considered unethical, and obtaining a diagnosis can be an invitation for potential abuse and exploitation, as illustrated in the account of adult diagnostic experience in Australia below. Even the most well meaning diagnostician will produce “offical” documentation that is coded in pathologising language.
Trigger warning: if you are currently keen on obtaining an official diagnosis of autism, the account of abuse and diagnostic In expanding our definitions of trauma, we must make sure we see trauma as a structural issue, not just an individual one. Scholars now recognize what people from marginalized communities... below may prompt you to rethink, and draw your attention to the Communal Definition of Autistic Ways of Being.
Regardless of diagnostic status, the account below should prompt all Autistic people
Autistic ways of being, trauma, and diagnosis | Autistic Collaboration
- to question the value of official diagnosis,
- to consider the value of Autistic peer support networks,
- and to focus on what can be achieved by co-creating healthy Autistic communities.
I spent twenty-seven years trying to convince people that I was Normal was created, not discovered, by flawed, eccentric, self-interested, racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist humans. Normal is a statistical fiction, nothing less. Knowing this is the first step toward reclaiming your... enough to accept, or at least leave Aloneness is a characteristic that many creatives embrace and yearn for. Being alone is anything but lonely. Reading, writing, and creating art all demand a personal space where one can..., and no one ever fully bought it. When I finally knew why that experiment was such an ongoing failure, though, few believed that either. I was using it as an excuse. I was exaggerating. I was faking. I was not as autistic as someone else someone knew and was, therefore, not really autistic.
These comparisons only ever go in one direction. No one has ever said to me, “Temple Grandin is a successful scientist, writer and public speaker, and you have the career of a mildly plucky freelancer half your age. You can’t possibly be autistic.” I suspect that this is because no one is genuinely trying to weigh what they know about me against a set of diagnostic criteria, or fit me into their greater understanding of autistics in the world. What people are really doing when they’re trying to determine if I’m really autistic is figuring out if I make them uncomfortable or sad enough to count. If I show any coping skills, any The ‘double empathy problem’ refers to the mutual incomprehension that occurs between people of different dispositional outlooks and personal conceptual understandings when attempts are made to communicate meaning.From finding a..., any likability, any fun essentially any humanity–I complicate the When we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... too much and usually end up ignored.I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir
This separation between real autistics and people who are “just quirky,” “just awkward” or “almost too Functioning labels are useless for the autistic person.More Problems with Functioning Labels Functioning labels are harmful constructs. The thing so many Autistics have pointed out about functioning labels is that we are... to count” is a mental dance that non-autistics have to do whenever they’re confronted with a 3-D autistic human being in the flesh. Otherwise everything they’ve ever thought, everything they’ve ever been told about us, starts to seem a little monstrous.I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir