Growing up autistic you get used to being told, “Don’t do that!” So what a relief when you get past all that, find other autistic folks, and finally get to be yourself! Am I right?
Sooner or later you run into the Autistic Behaviour Police. If you’ve spent any time online as an autistic person you have probably encountered them. Maybe you equivocated when asked about puzzle pieces. Maybe you showed ambivalence about identity-first language.
Maybe instead of ideological purity you value independence of thought? Somebody describing themselves as “having autism” doesn’t threaten or invalidate my own autistic identity. I have reasons for my preference and I can express them if people are interested. Likewise, if an autistic person feels an affinity with the puzzle piece who am I to tell them they can’t?
At heart neurodiversity is all about recognising and accepting differences without judgement. Without ascribing values to those differences. There is no better or worse. Whether neurotypical or neurodivergent in all our variety, we all just are.
There are some who preach acceptance but don’t live it. They only accept their own forms of difference, people who are like them. They see their own way of being, their own way of thinking as the only right way, the One True Way.
That is the path to intolerance, not acceptance. It’s another way of saying, “It’s my way or the highway!” Remember back to the people who kept telling you how to act. Who told you to sit still, look them in the eye, stop fidgeting. Those are the kind of people who believe there’s only one right way to be. Those are the kind of people who try to force you onto their path.
Don’t be one of those people. Everybody has their own way, and as long as they’re not harming folks there’s nothing wrong with that. Accept it. Accept them.