Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"So what are your deficits?"

I told a person on the train two months ago that I was autistic (I could have mentioned that I don't even like trains, but I did not). It was an interesting conversation, all around. I told the person I ran an ASAN chapter, I told him about the various points we were trying to cover.

Except. The person asked what my deficits were.

I struggled. I said, “I wouldn't frame autistic characteristics as deficits.” But I tried to not flinch from the blow.

“I don't usually talk to people on trains....” I continued, laughing a bit, apprehensive. Not sure where to go from here. I really wasn't. I mean, not a lot of people talk to each other on trains.

And then I tried to list things. Then I realized I was listing things in an effort to get the person to believe that I was capable of being an autistic leader, when I was sitting in from of them. And it made me think about how much the divisiveness costs progress, when you have to fit an impossible standard. You have to be both autistic and not autistic. People before me have said it often and better. 

Even the Wikipedia section on the autism rights movement criticizes the autism rights movement (using functioning labels, of course). It links to numerous critical articles for its sources. No mention of the diverse range of autistic people participating in it.

“So what are your deficits?”

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