Life on the Spectrum

Last night somebody shared an article on Facebook. The article was called “Things never to say to parents of a child with autism.” A comment on the article asked why there wasn’t one about things not to say to an autistic adult. I decided to write that article. It’s based on not only my experience, but also the experiences of my autistic friends.

1) “You don’t look autistic.”

My response to this would be something along the lines of what Gloria Steinem said when people told her she “looked good for 50.” She said, “This is what 50 looks like.” I say, “This is what autism looks like.” However, what I’d like to say is: “I don’t look autistic, and you don’t look ignorant. I guess we’re both wrong.”

I don’t know what people who say this mean when they say I don’t look autistic. What does autism look like? If I looked at any of my autistic friends, I wouldn’t be able to say, “This person looks autistic,” if I didn’t already know they were.

Sometimes people will say, “But you look so normal.” I don’t know if that’s meant to be a compliment or not. To this I say that I am normal.

2) “You can’t be autistic because…”

This could be, “You can’t be autistic because you can talk,” “You can’t be autistic because you have friends,” “You can’t be autistic because you have a job,” or “You can’t be autistic because you are married.”

Autism is a spectrum. There are many variations among autistic people. Some are non-verbal, while others are what is known as hyperlexic, meaning they talk a lot and have large vocabularies. Some autistic people have jobs, and some don’t. Most autistic people have friends, and those that don’t usually want to have friends. Some autistic people are married, and some are not. There’s probably as wide a variation among autistic people as there is in the non-autistic population.

3) “Don’t call yourself autistic. You’re a person with autism. You must use person-first language.”

I call myself an autistic person. Many in the autism community prefer to use autism-first language. As Ari Ne’eman said, “When I go on a trip I don’t forget to pack my autism.” I’ve written blog posts before about why I prefer autism-first language. However, it is a personal preference. Some prefer to use person-first language, and others don’t. All of us would prefer to not be told what to call ourselves, especially by people who aren’t autistic.

4) “Are you like Rainman?”

Rainman was a fictional character in the movie of the same name. Rainman was portrayed as an autistic man with savant skills (savant skills are considered to be exceptional abilities by people with intellectual disabilities in the areas of “rapid calculation, art, memory, or musical ability,” according to Wikipedia.) He was based on an actual person with savant skills, Kim Peek, but Kim Peek was not autistic himself.

Most autistic people are not savants. Some are, like Daniel Tammett, author of Born on a Blue Day, but they are the exception, not the norm. Not all autistic people are savants, and not all savants are autistic.

5) “You’re autistic? Does that mean you’re retarded?”

First of all, let’s not use the “r” word. It may have once had a clinical meaning, but these days it’s used primarily as an insult. Second, does being autistic mean a person has an intellectual disability? Not always. As I said before, autism is a spectrum. There is a lot of variation among people on that spectrum. Some people have intellectual gifts, while others have intellectual disabilities. Most of us fall somewhere between those two. Many autistic people have normal to above-average IQs and have learning disabilities at the same time, which may mask their true abilities. Finally, many of us simply don’t learn the same way as non-autistic people, and we may have trouble with an educational environment that is not set up for people like us. That can cause us to be labelled as “retarded” or “disabled” when we’re not.

6) “You’re too intelligent to be autistic.”

Again, there is much variation among people on the autism spectrum. Some of us have low IQs, some of us have superior IQs, and most of us fall somewhere in between. Intelligence is not a diagnostic criterion for autism.

7) “You’re not autistic. You just have Asperger’s.”

Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition that is on the autism spectrum. The latest version of the DSM, the diagnostic manual for mental disorders, has done away with the Asperger diagnosis in favour of simply using “autism spectrum disorder.”

8) “You must be high-functioning.”

Functioning labels are not useful. They are an artificial means of trying to classify people into rigid and discrete categories. Nobody is 100 percent “high-functioning” or 100 percent “low-functioning.” Some people can change their “functioning” levels within the space of a few hours depending on their energy levels or the environment they’re in. To paraphrase Laura Tisoncik, when you’re labelled low-functioning your abilities are ignored, and when you’re labelled high-functioning your needs are ignored. There are no specific, definable criteria for what is “high” and what is “low” functioning.

9) “I know an autistic person, and you don’t act like he or she does.”

What I would like to say: “I know a neurotypical [non-autistic] person, and you don’t act like he or she does.” Again, I bring up the words “spectrum” and “variation.” When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.

10) “You don’t act like you’re autistic.”

There are two possible answers to that. One is that I am acting like an autistic person, and this is how this particular autistic person acts. Again with the spectrum and the variety of people within it.

Another answer, though, could be that I am currently expending all my energy to specifically not act like an autistic person. I could be at work or in some other situation in which it is important to act a certain way — not stimming, not talking about my special interest, trying hard to make eye contact — and I am currently doing my “mimicking the neurotypicals” act. When I am alone or in a more autism-friendly environment, them I will probably act more autistic.

11) “You’re just saying you have Asperger’s to get away with being rude.”

I’ve had that accusation levelled at me, as have many of my friends. Oddly, it is often levelled at us when we are NOT being rude. I’ve heard that there are people who say they have Asperger’s as an excuse for being rude, but I’ve never encountered any of these people. If you read the comments for any YouTube video or news article online, you’ll encounter plenty of rude people who don’t claim to have Asperger’s at all.

Generally, I’ve found that if a person who has Asperger’s does accidentally offend someone, they are genuinely sorry for it. An Aspergian person may use Asperger’s as an explanation for rudeness but not an excuse, the difference being that the person using it as an explanation will apologize and try to learn from the experience so that they don’t do it again, while the person using it as an excuse will refuse to take responsibility, won’t apologize and won’t care if they do it again.

12) “My friend’s/neighbour’s/second cousin twice removed’s child had autism, but they put him on a special diet and he got better.”

Some autistic people have food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance. Some are sensitive/allergic to gluten. Some are sensitive/allergic to dairy. Some are sensitive/allergic to other foods or ingredients in the food. In those cases, their behaviour improves once they stop eating the foods that make them sick. That doesn’t mean they are no longer autistic. It just means they are feeling better than they were when they were ingesting substances that made them sick.

In other cases, parents put their child on a gluten-free/dairy-free diet because they’ve been told that all autistic children should go on that diet. Their child is in therapy at the same time, and if the parent sees an improvement they may credit the diet for it rather than the therapy.

13) “You can get over it. It’s just in your head. It’s not physical.”

This is often said to people suffering from depression or anxiety as well as to autistic people. Apparently when something is in your head, other people think it somehow isn’t real, hence the saying, “It’s all in your head.”

Autism causes neurobiological differences in the brain. There are actual physical differences in the brains of autistic people, so it actually is physical.

Certainly, the right kind of therapy and support can help autistic people, but that doesn’t mean we are “over” our autism. We can learn to manage our symptoms, but autism is always there.

14) “You seem so normal!” “I can’t believe you have autism!” “You are doing really well, so you must be so proud of yourself.”

What can I say to these? Am I proud of myself? Yes, I am proud of myself for my accomplishments — getting a university degree, keeping the same job for 12 years, buying a house, maintaining a long-term relationship. However, as I said in response to the first item on the list, autistic people can and do achieve all of those things. “You seem normal!” That is because I AM normal. “I can’t believe you have autism!” Well, believe it. Autistic people can accomplish many things that were once believed to be impossible for us, and we will keep on achieving them.

Comments on: "Fourteen Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult" (73)

  1. Richard Patey said:

    Yes excellent article and I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone what to call themselves but for me and I seem to be in a minority here I vert vert strongly feel person with autism is absoloutley necessary and correct. Autistic is a label and as for autie or asbie these totally grind my gears and I thoroughly detest their use.
    Why criticise retarded “correctly” bur agree with the almost equally unhelpful label Autistic.
    As I said I realise I am in a minority in the autism community but I really really detest these sort of patronising labels.

  2. restlesspirit said:

    i think people confuse low functioning autism with aspergers and those are two entirely different situations,,

  3. This is SO good! I don’t know if this is just an Australian thing, but another one I get is “oh, then you must know X” where X is some random person on the spectrum (or who has a kid on the spectrum) that the asker knows or has heard of. It would be kind of cool if there was some sort of underground network you were initiated into when you were diagnosed that meant every person on the spectrum knew each other, but there isn’t! (Or maybe there is, and I’m just so uncool I didn’t get an invite? 🙂 )

  4. I prefer the person first label. I fell that the autism first label does not acknowledge that I am a person that has unique abilities. The autism first label defines me by one thing and that is my autism. The person with autism helps me to be able to define myself as being a person who has an autism spectrum disorder. It defines me as a human. I fell that the whole autistic person thing says that I am broken and can not be fixed or made to be better. Not that I would want to be fixed. Autism is as much a part of my identity as being a corsetmaker or working an office job. I am not an autistic person, I am a person who has autism. Sadly enough, there are still people out there who think that people with autism have no place in the working world. Maybe they don’t say it, but their actions sure do imply it. I know my grandmother (not blood related) actually told my father that my brother (who also has autism) and I should both be institutionalized. It doesn’t hurt so much now as it did back when she said that because I realize that she was acting out of ignorance. Unfortunately, people go by what they see on the outside rather than by who the person really is. I really wish people would just forget their ignorance for a bit and actually take the time to talk to me and get to know me. If they did, they might actually be amazed by the person that I really am and what I’ve had to go through to be where I am at now. There is a line in a Theatre Of Tragedy song that I think really does apply to this. It says, “Talk to us long enough and you will be perplexed.” (Begin And End, Theatre Of Tragedy). Anyway, I think I’ve been on my soapbox long enough. These are just my two cents.

  5. One *small* note: Neurotypical is not synonymous with non-autistic… the term disregards those not on the spectrum with their own neurodivergence.

    • Neurotypical -was- synonymous with non-autistic, and *vauge handwavy motion* the medical side of everything use neurotypical to mean non-autistic. (And like, regardless, it’s possible to be non-autistic and not neurotypical, but by defenition if you are neurotypical you are non-autistic.)

      • Alex Cockell said:

        I agree – I was part of the early online Asperger/Autism community that gave the term Neurotypical to Tony Attwood et al in the 1990s or thereabouts – to replace the term “normal” that Uta frith and co were using back then.

    • There are times when using the term neurotypical makes a lot more sense than using allistic, even when you are essentially saying NT vs ASD. Yes, it is leaving out the allistic neurodiverse, but sometimes that is the point–not to exclude them, but to say “those with the most common neurology tend to act/feel/think this certain way, while I do not.”

      I cannot speak for those who are neurodiverse but not autistic, and in the particular situation being discussed they may identify with me, or with NTs or with neither.

      In other words, I do not want to lump them with “anyone not on the autism spectrum” without knowing if it would be accurate.

    • I agree on this one. ADHD, tic disorders, specific learning disabilities (anything that begins with dys-), language disorders, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and other neurodivergences should not be overlooked.

  6. P.S. If you do not understand what I mean, this is worth reading:

  7. One thing you forgot to add….”Everybody is like that, does that make everyone autistic”? Or “I do that too and I’m not autistic”.

  8. “AM normal”? I’m not normal, and happy with it. I don’t think it’s a good idea to 1) claim that we are normal when we are not; and 2) make it sound like normal is a good thing that we should aspire to when some of us will never be and that is just fine – even a good thing. How about celebrating our differences from the norm? We have some pretty great ones.

  9. Also, usually when we are perceived by NTs as being rude, it is due to a misperception on their part. When we explain our intentions in these cases, it shouldn’t always be accompanied by an apology, because one is not often owed, because we actually did nothing wrong. In fact, the apology is usually owed by them, after they have falsely accused us.

  10. Nyctophilia Raven said:

    Reblogged this on Nyctophilia Raven.

  11. “However, it is a personal preference.”

    No, it is not. As long as there continue to be consequences for person-first language such as the hearer then thinking of being autistic as something separate and not intrinsic, it by definition cannot be a preference. That, by the way, is why organisations like Autism Speaks For Normie ___holes likes person-first so much. Because when fence-sitters hear it, it makes their pathology model that much easier to sell.

    People can threaten me with sexual assault or murder, and aggravate my PTSD symptoms less than person-first does. I have even moved interstate despite poverty because one person would not get the hint that person-firsting, or rather separationist language, is not acceptable. I prefer to live without the feeling that I am about to be assaulted, tortured, or murdered. If anyone wants to tell me their preference for “putting the person before the” whatever overrides that, I ask they have the decency and courage to do so in person.

  12. Reblogged this on lifeasadiaperedmother and commented:
    1) Yes I seem normal and look normal.
    2) I can talk, drive, am married with kids, have a job, go to places on my own.
    3)No I don’t call myself autistic.
    4) No I am not Rain Man and I don’t have any savant skills.
    5) No I am not retarded even though I have been asked that and mistaken as being slow or retarded and someone trying to tell me online autism was a form of mental retardation so therefore I was too.
    6) I have also been told I am so smart I can go to college and find it hard to believe I was in special ed and got help through school.
    7) My parents think AS and autistic are two different things. It’s like how you can have a cold but not a fever.
    8) I have also gotten I must be high functioning and it doesn’t offend me at all.
    10) No I don’t act autistic, I do get my moments and how is an autistic person supposed to act? I have been around many of them and we all looked fine unless I am oblivious. I can go from normal to not normal in five seconds and then I literally forget about it. My husband will tell me I don’t act normal even though in my view I am. If me not talking to people and being kept to myself or me not socializing or me running up to my room and locking myself in there to get away from all the stimulation or to relax with my computer makes me act autistic, okay but in my view it’s all normal and my personality. Here are introverts, everyone does something to relax, everyone needs time alone. What’s normal?
    11) Never gotten that one but I know it has happened where someone used it as an excuse to get away with whatever but they are the minority. I have even seen some admit it online using it as an excuse. I have also seen rude people online who happen to have it but I doubt they are using it as an excuse. There is a difference being rude and having it and using it as an excuse to be rude. In fact sometimes people use your AS as an excuse by using it against you.
    13) I have gotten better as I got older and I have matured. I felt that is getting over it. I sometimes realize I never really gotten over a symptom, I have just learned to manage it or adapt and I handle it differently. Is it getting over it?
    14) I have gotten “You seem normal” when I have opened up about my past (especially online) and I have taken it as a compliment. So I seem normal now, that means I have now learned to appear normal and act normal and people can no longer tell I am different. As a kid, kids would pick up on me being different and make fun of me and single me out and call me retarded or stupid and just treat me different. I also remember being labeled as weird and insane and crazy and one girl mentioning to me on the bus one time I sit like a toddler and my mom told me I was sitting fine. I don’t know if it was her bias view or if the girl was out of her mind. We were friends. Or someone who tells me I seem normal may be the kind of person who doesn’t go around picking apart behaviors people do and assuming they have something wrong with them because everything is normal. I certianlly don’t go around picking apart behaviors and deciding that isn’t normal so I can tell they have autism or have some mental disorder or issue. If it’s way out of the norm, then I can tell. I may just think they have an issue that needs to be worked out through a therapist or they need to learn. I am normal.
    I have also been told I am doing to good in my life and worked so hard and made it very far, my mother tells me this. She will also tell me I am doing good than most people and apparently I am doing better than my NT cousins including the one overseas who isn’t really NT because she has Bipolar and ADD. I even wonder if she has aspie traits because she shares qualities of it and I suspect one of my other cousins is on the spectrum but I will never know for sure since I don’t really know her childhood despite seeing her as a kid but then again, what is normal. Autistic people at my group all acted normal so of course my cousin would seem normal too. Even my ADD cousin seemed normal all those years until my husband and I made a mistake of inviting her on a trip with us and all of a sudden she had a different personality because we were with her long enough for it to show. It was very hard to deal with and it took me three days to recover from it. I think that was her Bipolar because my husband said this year “That explains it” when told him she had been diagnosed with it. That explains her full energy and her dramatic behavior. Plus I had to lock my car windows when she was with because she wouldn’t stop opening it. So yes people can seem normal but I bet if you are with them long enough, then it will show they have a problem. With my cousin, it happened to be one of those days when it showed. Other times I had seen her, it never showed unless I was oblivious.

  13. As an adult who has been diagnosed with asperger’s for fifteen of the twenty two and a half years of my life, I have one to add to this list.

    15. “It’s raining ‘cats and dogs’ outside.”

  14. You know I get a lot, ‘but you don’t look like a deaf person.’ In which I reply what does a deaf person look like? my family think I have mild autism, I’m waiting for a specialist to see me. I however feel normal, do have trouble in meeting new people, making friendships, but that may be because I am deaf. I am open to new ideas and support if that is what I need ASD or not I feel like a normal everyday person, and people seem to have more trouble understanding and sympathizing with me than I do with them, so who knows really.

  15. I have heard all of those! I hate when people think they know better than me, because I have known them for all of two hours and they have seen a TV show about autism and therefore they are experts.

  16. This resonates with me so much, as it does with many others. Thanks for sharing.

    I was once told by a mental health “professional” that I couldn’t be Asperger’s because I “don’t look odd.” What a nut!

  17. Background to point of view: 59, late diagnosed, disclosure mostly to family, limited exposure to incriminated statements but encountered most of them.

    Why is it that I find them less annoying than the majority of other commenters? The reason is maybe a different perspective for biographical reasons. What did I know of DSMs / Asperger’s / ASD / high functioning autism (select preferred term) three years ago? Nearly nothing. Could it be that I would have used one of the sentences above? … Hmmm … In hindsight it is easy to answer with an empathetic ‘no’, in reality – likely – yes? So if I blame others for their ignorance I must blame myself at least potentially as well for it for the first 56 years of my life. Alas, herewith I do so and apologize without sarcasm to the community to which I hope to belong after spending 15 years in the ‘therapy-resistant-depression’ corner.

    I *am* definitely rude (classical ASD feature) sometimes and frequently ignorant (by logical necessity), therefore I do not automatically expect to be treated ‘properly’. This is not at all supposed to mean that ‘the 14’ above do not hurt. They do, I have felt it. It is not nice to get one of them from (adult) children or spouse. But whether the feeling goes down to a slight itch or increases to pain mostly depends on the reaction of people *after* I offer an explanation.

  18. […] is my personalized version of the “Fourteen Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult.” I haven’t gotten all of these yet, but I’m fairly certain I will […]

  19. Samantha Willis said:

    I like this article. Thank you for writing it xx

  20. I wrote a similar blog a couple months ago. I love the “diet” one. Yes. If you don’t eat red dye, gluten, whatever your Autism will disappear. Yeah. Right.

    We need more acceptance and less dismissal of our disorder. Great blog! I’ll follow ya!

  21. I think when people say disabled people are rude they do so in response to that person asking for their needs accommodated. Similar to when young people mock someone as being a special snowflake. It’s the notion that you’re being unreasonable for asking people to understand certain things affect you more than other people. I also think it’s a result of growing up in a culture that says the majority is right. It’s very difficult advocating for yourself when people respond with othering statements like, “It’s not bothering anyone else!”

    Many disabled people including myself have a fear of being seen as a problem or a burden because we’ve been told most of our lives accommodating our needs is just too much work. I think this is a reason so many disabled people have anxiety. We always are walking on eggshells around normal people. We’re terrified of losing friends if we act in a way seen as embarrassing to others.

    Maybe we’re rude because we’re drowning in fear begging for help, only to have someone devastate us again by saying no. This would sum up my issues with Disney Parks new Disability Access Card system, making Autistic people have to act stereotypically Autistic to get help. I’d go into it more, but that easily would turn into a off-topic rant. We get told no so many times we’re surprised when someone says yes. Maybe we’re rude because we tried being polite and it did not work. Don’t blame us for having an attitude problem we gained as a survival instinct after years of being dismissed, shut down, and our needs ignored when we tried doing things the way normal people wanted us to. I don’t like being angry, I feel scared I’ll upset someone. However in my experience people without disabilities give us little choice other than demanding our needs be met, because being nice almost never works.

  22. Reblogged this on The Writing Engine and commented:
    As someone with undiagnosed autism, all of this feels familiar and true.

  23. This resonates with me so much. I could write a similar list for ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome.

    It’s natural for us to self-reference when trying to understand a person or something else they are interested in. But there should be more of an instinct to find out what people are on their own terms, especially on issues where people are just naturally different in how they interact with the world.

  24. Glad people are still writing about these things. Have your seen my older post though? It’s here:

    • I think I may have read it at one time, but it was interesting to read again and see what things are the same. By the way, I heard you might be coming to visit us in Victoria, B.C. in November.

  25. […] Purple Aspie’s blog. There is no personal information on who this writer is, but the post on 14 Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult was brilliant and one of my most popular posts this past month on Facebook. “Yes, I am proud of […]

  26. […] purpleaspie Purple Aspie’s blog. There is no personal information on who this writer is, but the post on […]

  27. “You’re too intelligent to be autistic.”
    My parents were told that about me by the person who was supposed to be assessing me for Autism, hence their ‘doctor shopping’.

  28. #11, particularly the final paragraph, is exceptionally well-written!

  29. To #13, whenever anyone says *anything* is all in my head, I often reply with, “So are my eyes, ears, and brain. They are no less real for being in my head.”

    I don’t know if people understand my point though; it seems to just confuse them.

  30. flutistpride said:

    To #13, it’s not in my head. It is my head.

  31. […] purpleaspie Last night somebody shared an article on Facebook. The article was called “Things never to […]

  32. as a person w a mathematics disability i’ve also gotten “u can’t be autistic bc ur bad at math”/variations thereof

  33. Another reason why some people think x diet works: The child had an underlaying medical condition (like celiac’s, or an allergy, or lactose intolerance) and the child has more spoons to deal with other things now that those spoons aren’t being wasted on dealing with feeling like crap from an untreated medical condition. They are still autistic, they just have more spoons for other things now.

  34. Ms Joanne Elizabeth Fisher said:

    Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!
    Very Succinct!
    Wish I could give this to people, to enable them to understand us Aspies.

  35. I’m going to use a statement my father used to use, paraphrased to mention one of these things.

    “If I had a nickel for every time someone said #13 to me, I’d be a f***in’ millionaire.”

    Just today I had two people say something akin to “You can learn to be more people-friendly. Just get over it.” Dudes, I’ve got three personalities: Dr. Jeckyll, Mr. Hyde, and George.

    My Dr. Jeckyll is the personality I show to most people, and try to maintain in my family relationships too. He’s fairly stable, although given to occasional sarcasm, but generally pretty unemotional. Think of a not-quite-Spock for another example. I can maintain this personality for hours now after 40 years of practice, but it eventually runs down my internal batteries because he’s not me, not who I am, but the assumed personality that seems to work best under most conditions.

    My Hyde is, well, Mr. Hyde. Volatile and explosive temper or crying uncontrollably, unable to handle any sort of emotional responses (good or bad), noisy, always stimming…. While this is my “default” personality, it is NOT the person you want to be around. That’s also me when I’m too tired or too overexposed to pass as “normal”; it’s where I’m going when I say, “Sorry, I need some air” and leave the room.

    George is the side that’s George Carlin. George can be funny as long as he’s not talking about you; it’s not so funny to get that acid wit constantly directed at you. It was my first attempt at passing, and it didn’t work very well (and I wasn’t happy with him anyway; he can be quite mean). He still comes out at times, but tempered with Dr. Jeckyll he’s tolerable for a while.

    I can no more be an outgoing, people-friendly person than I can stop breathing. Look, I’d LOVE to be that sort of person – it’s beyond my capacity. Believe me, I’ve tried, a lot, over the years. When I was a kid I often said I’d “trade 30 IQ points to be normal”. I can’t; it’s not gonna happen.

    As a prospective teacher, I’ve learned a lot about accommodations made for students, like individual education plans (IEPs) and Section 504 plans (for medical conditions like ADHD, which I also have). But those plans are for students; they don’t exist for adults. Apparently we’re supposed to grow out of our autism. You all know we can’t; we do our best, and I think all we want is a little understanding – not special treatment, just understanding.


  36. Cheryl Wagner said:

    I helped a friend of mine raise his three children for several years. He has a daughter, and twin sons. We knew the twins were not learning at the same expected level of other children (not potty trained even at three, not speaking most of the time). They had the somewhat traditional “twinspeak”. One would think of something, look at the other, tap him on the shoulder, and they were both off to get into some mischief or other. When they wanted to speak, they would, even though their vocabulary would not be the same for their age group. It was after we had the twins in school (different schools actually, so they couldn’t rely on each other for answers or learning how to accomplish something), that we found out both were on the spectrum. Identified as Asperger’s, both boys did learn as their non-spectrum classmates did, they were just a bit slower. Given something they enjoyed, and they excelled at it. As adults, they chose to share an apartment (they are rarely apart), and take care of themselves, do the cleaning and the cooking and other items expected of someone living on their own, but they are not very physical when it comes to showing affection for someone. This is probably the one place where they are different than when they were young. They loved everyone as small children. Now they are restricted as to whom they will hug, or give a kiss to, or otherwise be affectionate. Having watched them grow up, we don’t consider anything about them as ‘different’. They are as they have grown. They don’t require support from us or anyone else. A comment in the person’s article indicated that some spectrum people have certain areas in which they excel. This may sound odd, and probably not like an ‘ability’, but give these boys Legos, yep, plain old Lego blocks, and if you give them enough, and leave them alone, they can recreate anything they have seen anywhere, if it is physically able to be duplicated. And, oh yeah, they are 23 years old. We will be there for them if and as they need us. Otherwise, they’re adults with their own lives. Don’t prejudge children that you have been told are ‘going to have problems’ as they grow. It is that prejudice that helps cause some of the so-called problems. Let them grow at their own pace, and be there when they need you. And they may prove to be perfectly fine.

  37. Very considerate and well written!

  38. Someone suggested we push for our son to be labelled autistic so that we would receive $12k from the government to help with difficulties he had at school. I refused and paid a lot of money for independent assessment. He was found not to be in the spectrum. His difficulties were simply due to late language development. I would say, if you have a label question it.

  39. I just want to say- thank you for that sentence on explanation vs excuse. It has seriously helped me with my worry that I am using my various “health stuff” (autism and physical disabilities, among others) as excuses when I try to explain to people that I am sorry, but this happened because _. I realize now that I have very rarely used it as an excuse, and I feel so much better about it now. I will likely feel guilty about it still, but to a much lesser degree.
    In all honesty, thank you for this article in general. I usually don’t tell people I am autistic unless I know them or have a reason to do so, but now I have something to use if I am ever faced with such casual ableism. Thank you so, so much, and I hope you have a good day.
    I was actually planning on making a quote post on Tumblr of the aforementioned sentence, but I realize it would be best to ask for permission. I… also do not quite know what I should put in “source.” I want everyone to see that sentence- mainly for the peace of mind of people with disabilities/who are neurodivergent. I want people to see this, because it really helped me, and I think it could really help others as well. Would it be alright for me to do this?

  40. Reblogged this on Cambria's Big Fat Autistic Blog and commented:
    I have always wanted to come up with a snappy comeback to all of these…except I also wanted to punch them, too.

  41. tch tch tch all these silly labels

  42. So true! Is it so hard for people to understand that most aspies are neither “retarded” nor as clever as Einstein?

  43. Heather Rios said:

    ugh i don’t understand any of these comments. Are people going to get mad at me for using the wrong terminology? Teach me how I’m supposed to be. Am I autistic or a person with autism or something else? All this makes me not want to talk about it because i already am afraid of saying the wrong thing all the time, now i can’t even talk about autism without worrying someone is going to get mad at me.

  44. […] think purpleaspie put it best; this is like saying “‘I know a neurotypical…person, and you don’t act like he […]

  45. […] think purpleaspie threw it best; this is like saying “‘ I know a neurotypical…person, and you […]

  46. […] hay muchas otras páginas sobre este tema que también pueden ayudar (en inglés, aquí, aquí, aquí, aquí y […]

  47. It’s not just comments such as these I can’t stand. One thing they do prove, however (particularly when using “Rain Man” comparisons- really don’t like that)
    is that total lack of understanding amongst neurotypicals regarding autism and every other form of disability still prevails, even in these so-called enlightened times. High time each and every one of the neurotypicals upgraded their understanding, especially those authority figures who hold positions of power and believe themselves to be right every time (you know who you are, and here’s a newsflash: You’re not. Sorry. I’ve been dealing with one very annoying example at the moment, but I will be informing her very soon that I am done and we are done). Yes, being autistic myself, I have faults. I have spoken in anger and regretted it afterwards. Anger and anxiety are two things I need to downgrade. But certain neurotypicals (if there are any decent ones out there, please let me know), particularly medical professionals, need to upgrade their understanding of autism. It’s no wonder I find the behaviour of anyone in a position of authority and power questionable. If I were to accuse them of wrongdoing, they’d attempt to save both their faces. Pretty hypocritical. Judging the disabled and believing being able-bodied and “normal-minded” gives them superiority over the autistics or other disadvantaged in this world. No one is above anyone. Ignorance is no excuse. People are born with brains. Use them. Educate yourselves. Question everything. Assume nothing. Live and let live. Comments like these should not be used.

  48. In other words, walk on eggshells around autistic people.

  49. […] 14 Things not to say to an Autistic Person (I’ve actually had someone say #11 to my face, except it was phrased more rudely) […]

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