Toxic Positivity and Autism

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Toxic positivity: dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy.

Sometimes, as parents of autistic children, we want someone to acknowledge with us, “yeah, sometimes this sucks.” We’re not necessarily looking for a solution, or for a positive perspective. We just want our experience validated. We want to hear, “I get it. That is really hard.”

People are often well-intentioned when suggesting we look on the bright side, but unfortunately it often feels dismissive and alienating. It feels like they don’t get it, and it makes us feel alone.

Toxic positivity in the autism community

When it comes to the subject of autism, there are many toxic statements that annoy me:

1 – “autism is a gift”
2- “My kid does this too”
3- “god wouldn’t have given you special children if he thought you couldn’t handle it”
4- “at least he’s healthy”

The thing is, not only are these statements dismissive of the very real struggles autism can bring, they’re also not always true, and they can be downright dangerous.

If we keep pushing the “autism is a gift” narrative and ignore the challenges that most autism families face, we risk a reduction in services, which are already sparse.

How can we advocate for more help if people push autism as a gift? Why would we need support for a gift?

As uncomfortable as it is, we absolutely need to talk about the severe challenges autism sometimes come with. We need to acknowledge each other’s feelings. We need to sometimes show the dark side of it.

Autism is one of the only disabilities that people try to claim as an identity. The spectrum has really become too broad, and I wish there was some differentiation between autistics like Charlie and people with autism like me.

Read more of my posts about autism here.

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