How to not offend an autism advocate?
Things you can’t say about autism
Talking about autism can be tricky. It seems there’s controversy hiding behind every word, phrase, and symbol.
You can’t say “high-functioning” because you’re dismissing the struggles of the autistic person.
You can’t say “severe” or “low-functioning” because you’re ignoring their strengths.
You can’t say “autism is hard” because it’s ableist.
You can’t say “person with autism” because it sounds like autism can be separated or detached from the person, like a disease.
You can’t put your child in therapy because it’s ableist to try to make an autistic person less autistic “non-autistic”.
You can’t call it a disability because some autistics see their own autism as a gift.
You can’t say it’s a disorder because that, too, is ableist.
You can’t use the puzzle piece symbol because it’s used by Autism Speaks, which many autistics (wrongly) consider a hate group. And the same goes for the color blue.
So, how to talk about autism without offending an autism advocate?
Many parents of children with autism come to social media to seek support and reassurance, a glimmer of hope that they are not alone in their struggles. They are looking for other people who “get it”. They want to talk about their child’s autism to educate the general public about a disability that is still not well-known and understood. They want to raise acceptance and show the world that their children are just as worthy of love as other children. Sadly, the constant policing of how to talk about autism on social media beats these people down and forces them to hide.
The autism community can be cruel. It seems like the best way to not offend an autism advocate is to say nothing at all, and that is the last thing we should be doing.
We need to use our voices. We need to talk about autism in all its shapes and forms. The spectrum is broad, and each autistic is only an expert on their own autism.