Imagine not being autistic

Woman staring at mirror with lips parted, holding up phone

Imagine living a life where you don’t have to think about breathing between words, where you can just wake up and choose what you want to wear without factoring in sensory input and get ready for work and go to work without feeling apprehensive about what sensory hell you’re going to immerse yourself in for profit today.

Imagine booking a vet appointment for your pet and being able to just…go there and get it done. Imagine knowing whether you’re allowed to go into the room with them, or if the vet people just take your pets and leave you in the waiting area. Imagine knowing whether your pets are allowed to roam the patient room outside their carrier or if they have to remain in the carrier the entire time.

Imagine knowing how to do supposedly simple shit, like heating water in a kettle, without having to consider the process for each.

Imagine taking “common” sense for granted.

Imagine having a brain that doesn’t divide every activity into a hundred different tiny steps for the sake of spicy overwhelm.

Imagine being able to push through only work/life burnout, not neurotype masking burnout.

Imagine not having to pretend your brain is different from most everyone else’s around you.

Imagine not having to deal with meltdowns.

Imagine living in a world made for non-autistic people.

Imagine being allistic.

I can’t even begin to fathom what that must be like.

Therein lies the problem with non-autistic people holding the power to diagnose autistic people.

TikTok content creator @autiegoddess articulated it so well:

Allistic people should not be allowed to assess or diagnose autism. In fact, it should only be autistic people, because they’re the only ones that could perceive autism correctly, and often allistic people are trying to “gatekeep” autism and giving a diagnosis; whereas autistic people are usually trying to make it more accessible so people can get the help that they need.

Someone did comment about how psychologists need not be “mentally ill” to diagnose and treat mental health, to which they responded:

Hey, so I’m gonna use this comment kind of as a springboard to clarify further the video that I made. So, I replied to this comment that you can disagree with my point, but you’re wrong to label autism as a mental health issue, because it is not a mental illness — it is a different neurotype, which just means that we have different brain wiring, and perceive the world differently and experience the world differently.

It’s not an illness or a sickness that should be viewed only from the outside.

I also mentioned to check out the double empathy studies, and these studies show that autistic people can easily empathize with other autistic people, and allistic people with other allistic people, but the problems come when autistic and allistic people try to empathize and understand each other because they don’t share the same lived experience; there’s a lot of difficulties in that.

So if an allistic person can’t easily empathize with or understand an autistic person and their experience — and there are studies that show this — but an autistic person easily can, I would argue that autistic people should diagnose other autistic people because they actually experience it, so they can recognize it super quickly, and we all anecdotally have that experience.

[E]specially when there are studies that show that they can’t empathize easily with us or understand because their brains perceive the world differently than ours, just like ours perceive the world differently than theirs.

I wouldn’t want to go to someone with one brain type opposite to mine and ask them how I fit in with brains that are like mine, because they will be coming from a standpoint of trying to see how I don’t fit into their brain type rather than how I do fit into the brain type of the people I relate to.

And a lot of us are traumatized into masking and pretending to be allistic people in order to make allistic people comfortable, for safety reasons, and then they’ll look at us and be like, “Okay, well, you appear like me so obviously you’re not autistic,” but it’s actually a survival mechanism that we’re doing — and it’s really, really hard to unmask.

So it creates a lot of trauma that would simply be avoided by going to an autistic person that understands how we perceive the world and can easily detect that we are perceiving the world in a very similar way, rather than someone just observing our behaviors and used that against us when we’re explaining our intrinsic experience but they don’t easily understand that as is proven with those studies.

There’s definitely a lot of nuance surrounding it, but the double empathy studies support claims that non-autistic people don’t actually know enough about the life experience of autism…so why do they hold power to diagnose it?


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