Recently on Twitter there have been a couple of hashtags to do with Autism, #livingwithautism and #actuallyautistic.
And I’m not sure about either of them.
The first, “living with” conjures all sort of bad things in my mind. I say that because, in my experience, the only time I hear the words “living with” or those of a similar bent, are by way of a complaint.
“Well I have to live with it”
“You try living with it”
“If I have to live with it a day longer..”
it always sounds such a burden, a chore, something we would rather not face.
I appreciate that many responses have been in a humorous vein and that’s great but to me “living with” sounds tiresome and forced.
“Actually autistic” does, I feel, present it’s own problems.
It’s like a justification. Yes I’m “actually” autistic. Yes, I really am. No, I’m being serious.
Who, exactly are we trying to separate ourselves from ?. Those who aren’t “actually” autistic but might be/hope to be/think they are or from the wider neurotypical world.
Does “actually autistic” mean things by/relating to/for those on the spectrum ?. Is this a seal of approval ?, a quality mark if you were ?. Genuine Autism sold here ?.
And should we have to justify it ?. And to whom ?.
I have Aspergers. I am Autistic. Do I need to add “actually” ?. Does it make me better ?.
Is there an “actually neurotypical” hashtag ?. Should there be ?.
My uneasiness stems partly from these things being, to me, a little unnecessary and partly from the fact that we have somehow become quite militant, quite tribal and also quite dismissive of the neurotypical society. We’ve started to become a little arrogant.
It interests me when I read tweets dismissive of people such as Tony Atwood or Simon Baron-Cohen. Tweets that criticise their thinking, call them misguided or wrong to varying degrees….yet these are the people (in Simon Baron-Cohens case certainly) who have diagnosed some of our associates on the spectrum.
Were they wrong in their diagnoses ?.
But I digress from the point I was making, Do we need a hashtag to prove a point ?. To highlight who we are ?.
Of course I can’t stop it. If people want to use hashtags then of course they can. But are they really helping us ?, promoting us ?, capturing who we are ?.
I’m not “actually” autistic.
I am Autistic. Full stop.