Why Autistic People Unalive Themselves

Rates are higher for autistic people than they are for non-autistic people. Non-autistic, primarily neurotypical, scientists and professionals point to autism as the cause.

Autism is not the cause of high suicide rates in autistic people. It’s not even the cause for depression and loneliness.

The reason autistic people are killing themselves is because they are surviving in a world that was not built with them in mind. This world is constantly reminding me, and people like me, that we don’t belong here.

As soon as we tell anyone about how we feel, everyone wants to fix us to make us not feel this way anymore. Non-autistic people cannot empathize with autistic people properly due to the double empathy problem, but they have too much pride to admit they could be the problem.

Autistic people experience the world entirely differently

We feel more.

Autistic people have unique sensory needs that, when ignored, have major consequences — including autism meltdowns. Yet, allistic people focus more on how these annoying needs make us “special”, when their own needs include eye contact to feel loved, seen, heard and validated.

We see more.

Autistic people might not fully comprehend all allistic body language, but we learn enough throughout our life that helps us differentiate between your disapproval and resentment.

We hear more.

You talk about us to each other like we’re not even in the room or capable of comprehending, remembering, and realizing. We know the whispered tones, sometimes hearing even the smallest of details.

Did you know electricity makes noise and that charging ports operate at different frequencies? I can literally hear my earbuds charging in their self-charging case, even when it’s not plugged into an outlet.

We do more.

Non-autistic people can give less than a hundred percent of themselves on bad days, and it’s fine. Autistic people are expected to hide their autism, which is known as masking, to be accepted. This means that being 100 percent themselves is out of the question — so they are forced to give 200 percent effort or face repercussions.

We are more.

The more I learn about neurotypical behavior, the more I realize neurodivergent individuals are superior in neurotype. This isn’t a superiority complex. It’s simply that neurodivergent individuals are heading towards being the anomaly, considering 30-40 percent of the world population is currently thought to be neurodivergent. Will that percentage be closer to 50-60 percent by 2030?

We are not neurotypical.

We say what we mean and mean what we say, and allistics act like there’s something wrong with us that we speak literally instead of in code — while they literally end relationships with long-term partners who don’t automatically know what they’re insinuating. Archaic information about autism is still used by many psychologists, therapists, parents and harmful organizations to encourage parents and caregivers to seek ways to diminish autism traits rather than embrace them — usually through the form of applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is rooted in gay conversion therapy and abusive no matter what you call it.

The entire concept of ABA relies heavily on the concept of building a person, as described by its founder, Ole Ivar Lovaas:

“You see, you start pretty much from scratch when you work with an autistic child. You have a person in the physical sense — they have hair, a nose and a mouth — but they are not people in the psychological sense. One way to look at the job of helping autistic kids is to see it as a matter of constructing a person. You have the raw materials, but you have to build the person.”

Every form of “autism treatment” seeks to reduce autism symptoms, which only teaches autistic people how to ignore their needs and hide every aspect of who they are in order to receive love.

It teaches us to mask, which is a direct cause of autism burnout. The so-called “success” you see with ABA is not progress — it’s masking.

Autistic people are severely misunderstood.

If you’re going to use the words severe and autism in the same sentence, the only accurate one would be this one. Autistic people are severely misunderstood by their non-autistic counterparts, typically neurotypical ones.

Imagine growing up in a world where you’re constantly reminded how your natural instincts and behaviors are wrong.

Imagine constantly hearing that you need to stop fidgeting/dancing/rocking/bouncing because you’re annoying other people.

Imagine realizing, at a young age, that your family only seems to love you when you’re pretending like you’re someone else.

Now imagine that you let those feelings slip one day.

I feel like all I do is annoy people.

Their response?

What are you saying? That’s crazy. We love you! Now, stop twirling; you know I can’t concentrate when you do that.

So many autistic adults have grown up around adults who sought to cure us, control us, and manage us so we were less of an inconvenience to people around us. They had to constantly remind themselves that we were people, so they used person-first language (“person with autism”).

Autistic people were taught that the responsibility of other people’s comfort, needs and feelings fall on autistic people. Stimming annoys people, makes them stare at us, and causes discomfort in non-autistic people, so autistic people are expected to ignore their own needs, accommodations and feelings to cater to everyone else’s.

You cannot ask an autistic person to meet you halfway without insulting them with your privilege. You may be at 100% as a non-autistic person, but the route was never balanced to begin with. Autistic people who give anything below 200% ever are perceived as problematic individuals who should be institutionalized.

Internalized ableism in the autistic community perpetuates loneliness.

Autistic people are not entirely in the clear themselves, in regard to how autistic people treat each other.

I’ve been immersed in the autistic community since around 2012 or 2013. It’s been a long time and I’ve come a long way. I joined a lot of sub-communities in hopes of connecting with people who had similar experiences to me. Mostly forums. Most of what I found was not inviting or welcoming, focusing heavily on superiority complexes within the autistic community.

There are a lot of autistic people who, despite their own needs, view themselves as superior to other autistic people because they’re “not that autistic”. They scoff at the autistic individuals who struggle more than themselves, who don’t understand everything and sometimes need a lot of things explained to them like they’re five.

Presumptions of if you tried hard enough and no excuses! you either can, or you don’t care enough! run rampant on the ableist basis of if I can do it as an autistic person, then every autistic person can, too! in some neurodivergent communities where the autistic people perpetuating this do not experience safe food phases, fully comprehend autistic masking, and have yet to experience autistic burnout.

I can’t fathom how long they’ll be able to keep it up until the battery runs out.

Autism does not increase risk of suicide.

It’s 2022. Stop the studies about how you think autism is an inherent cause of increased suicide risk. Stop trying to find links to other psychiatric conditions to make up for your own failures, inadequacies and — again — the double empathy problem.

I’m no scientist or licensed medical professional.

I’m an autistic adult who has a history of suicidal thoughts, ideation and attempts.

I’ve read and watched many stories by autistic people who felt suicidal, talking about why they attempted it or wanted to. The reason is always some variation of the following:

This world doesn’t want me.

I’m constantly reminded that I don’t fit in, constantly told I need to “just be myself” but also punished for being autistic. I can’t be both…you don’t even want ME.

Literally no one offline EVER understands me.

Allistics are more interested in fixing me to be like them than spending time to get to know ME and actually teaching me how to do anything.

Still confused as to why autistic people would commit suicide?

Look in the mirror.

There is a point where it stops being internal mental health and starts being an issue with society.

Stop trying to cover the fault of non-autistic people/yourself by medicating those of different neurotypes who struggle because of stigma, hatred, and constant reminders that you wish we were the same as you.

This is why I need autism acceptance.

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hi! I came to your site from a blog post you wrote about how to help an autistic child when they’re screaming. I’m so very grateful for and pleased by your writing. My son is 5, and the longer I parent him and learn about autism, the more I’m starting to become convinced I’m on the spectrum as well. Totally agree with everything you’ve mentioned here (minus ABA “always” being abusive — it did wonders for my son, and I watched them like a hawk to ensure it was ethical/didn’t discourage stimming/etc.) I love that you mentioned hearing the frequencies of electricity lol. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! One time we were staying at a hotel that had one of those chargers plugged into the wall that you charge other things on (I’m not sure what the technical name of it is), and I could hear it buzzing day and night. Drove me nuts. Nobody else noticed it *shrug*. Also, your site is beautifully designed! Anyway, thanks for writing and sharing practical things we can do to help our kids. I really appreciate it!

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Thank you for the kind words, but ABA is always abusive because long-term effects include autistic masking.

ABA “progress” is actually masking, always. It does not matter how closely you want your child, but that perhaps makes it worse. The autistic child realizes that in order to please the people around them, they have to comply and do what is unnatural to them.

The autistic community rejects ABA entirely, and recent studies prove just how harmful the affects of ABA (cPTSD, prolonged masking, etc.) is. Autism burnout is a direct cause of autism masking. Moreover, autistic adults are less likely to be accepted by their allistic peers despite ABA. Every non-exploited autistic person has spoken out against ABA in adulthood.

The skills taught in ABA do not help us in adulthood.

Honestly, the best that I have seen work is gentle parenting and Montessori. Montessori teaches life skills, while gentle parenting embraces the child’s differences.

The autistic community recently uncovered one autistic adult who did not grow up with trauma. There are hundreds of thousands of us on social media, and we’ve only ever found one autistic adult who did not grow up with trauma.

Her parents embraced her autism, never put her through ABA, and she is so undeniably autistic in every way. She doesn’t make eye contact on camera, she stims, she was never forced to speak (forced speaking in non-speaking/intermittently non-speaking autistics is masking because the autistic brain starts doing it as a form of self-preservation)…her parents listened to the autistic community. 🤷‍♀️

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I came across your blog as I continue to scour the internet looking for help for myself any my autistic daughter. I call therapists ask about their methodologies only to find the exact same things in your posts. There’s no books or manuals on how to help raise autistic children. I feel like as a parent I need an autistic adult to tell me what to do. I want my child to be their authentic self but I don’t want them unprepared for the real world. There are social things they need to learn. I’m at a loss and it’s certainly not from lack of trying. There just isn’t anything available that truly helps kids. I even homeschool my kids so they can be supported in their own pursuits.

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I was so nervous about this post because it’s such a controversial topic, so thank you so much for your comment!

While I have yet to create the content for it, I do plan to use this blog to share life skill guides for neurodivergent individuals, primarily autistic people, because I think allistic (non-autistic) people just don’t know that we don’t automatically know how to do things or have complete patience to figure it out from other how-to places that don’t factor in neurodivergence.

I’ve contributed to other blogs a little bit, in regard to raising autistic kids. The posts are listed on my press page.

Autistic Mama is a popular resource for moms of autistic children. She is autistic herself and has an autistic son.

@fidgets.and.fries (Instagram) is autistic, with an autistic son, and shares a unique perspective. As an autistic POC with an autistic son, she finds ABA is the only thing that works for her family because there are no other resources out there that fulfill their needs.

Everyone’s perspectives are different, though. We’re all just winging it. 🥲

Life skills needed currently depend on her age, but a general idea of things to teach include:

  • menstrual cycles (sensory aspect, and literally everything else; here’s my period trauma story)
  • how to identify and meet sensory needs
  • setting and enforcing healthy boundaries
  • how to say no (too many autistic girls are taken advantage of because women are conditioned not to say no when they feel uncomfortable)
  • how to feed herself (cooking from scratch or using premade ingredients; I have some recipes, but no pictures yet — I can email them to you if you want)
  • super simple money management + potential nonjudgmental accountability partner who can earn when funds are low (I use Capital One 360 + multiple checking/savings accounts, e.g. Default checking account, Savings account, Bills checking account. Bills are paid with direct deposit, since I only get one debit card per account)
  • self-care and self-regulation
  • finding safe place during meltdowns in public (since autistics may be mistaken as dangerous 🙄 or needing psychiatric help 😑)
  • turning a special interest into a career

Providing a safe space at home is crucial, but also recognize that it’s not representative of the real world. It seems you are aware of that, which is great. ☺️

I wish good books existed for parents of autistic kids, but they are so few and far between (I hope I used that phrase right 😅). Autistic self-advocacy has only come so far in recent years, and autistic adults are mostly trying to just figure it out as we go. I just turned 31 and am still figuring it out. 😵

One of the places we convene the most is TikTok. #actuallyautistic and #actuallyautistic adult are our usual hashtags. We share a lot about our struggles, which you might find you can use to help your daughter. 💖

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