We're Not All A Little Bit Autistic
🧩 We're Not All A Little Bit Autistic #IAmMe
Since doing my Understanding Autism course , I’ve become extra aware of the stigmas attached to and the ways in which much of society and the media discusses ASC. It is either dismissed casually as not that big a deal - ‘you cant be autistic… but you don’t do this etc , or simply viewed inaccurately or negatively . Largely this is down to a general lack of understanding, education and awareness. We've noticed for quite a while now when we've mentioned to some people ( be it strangers or even some people who already know Dyl and us) about Dylan being on the spectrum and him having a sensory processing disorder, that we are often hit with the words "We're all a little bit autistic though aren't we".
🙄 It's so bloody insensitive and draining to hear, and a largely inaccurate statement. Whether it's said simply in an attempt to make Dylan or us as parents feel 'better', Or intended to express they relate to some aspects of autism, it essentially trivialises the condition that Dyl and so many others have. When you look at what very specific behaviours are actually required to be considered for a diagnosis it becomes very obvious that NOT everyone is a little bit autistic. The three key elements that make up a diagnosis need to have been present in the individual since early years. They are called a Triad or Dyad of Impairments. The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these "limit and impair everyday functioning".
Basically these difficulties have an impact on the individuals life not just a moment here or there. For example, liking something done in a certain way doesn't mean you can relate to the impairment of obsessive and repetitive behaviour, which can aswell as autism be similar to the symptoms of OCD. It is an anxiety disorder which is entirely different to simply preferring things being done a certain way. If it doesn't cause disruption to the rest of your day or your mood etc ,or cause unwanted and distressing anxiety or thoughts then it isn't the same at all. Just like being able to retain certain information or memories doesn't mean you are like an autistic who has the ability of savant syndrome, which incidentally is not a common trait in most autistic individuals - Rain Man isn't a typical and accurate representation of ASC! Whilst neurotypical individuals can empathise with some of the neurodiverse aspects of ASC traits , we do not know what it feels like to be significantly impacted by these differences and difficulties on a daily basis. It is entirely different and needs to be acknowledged as different. Finding crowds stressful isn't going to be felt in the same extreme way as an autistic individual who may find the sensory processing elements of a crowd, such as the noise, the claustrophobia and the intensity of the environment so distressing their ability to function is heavily impacted affecting them dramatically and for some time afterwards , which can be the case for Dylan. Wearing his hat and ear defenders allows Dylan to manage this better. The symptoms he experiences as a result of a busy , loud environment which he is not prepared for can affect him hugely. He sees colours, spots, has pain in his eyes and cannot talk or continue to breathe as well. Sometimes resulting in feeling faint or curling up in a ball unable to function. He experiences actual physical pain in his head. If we were ‘all a little bit autistic ‘ and neurodiverse then surely many more of us would be wearing ear defenders and hats to help us manage crowds for example?
Being aware and showing compassion in seeing things from an autistic individuals perspective is absolutely crucial but so is respecting that difference. Appreciating that as neurotypical individuals we are not autistic and actually will never fully know what that particular difficulty or difference may be like or feel like to experience. Not trivialising or shrugging off autistic behaviour and traits as though they are something everyone experiences. Because they aren't. Autism isn't a mental health condition , it is a lifelong social and communication condition which has its positives and its negatives just like everything does in life. If you happen to be talking to someone and they are autistic, or care / parent someone on the spectrum don't use the phrase ‘ We're all a little bit autistic’ or ‘I do that’ . Neurodiversity wouldn't be a thing if we were ‘all a bit autistic’ . A neurodiverse brain works in a different way, it is a neurological difference. An autistic individual isn't just a little bit autistic , they are autistic. It's a part of who they are and ASC deserves to be respected for what it is. A physical disability wouldn't be likened and compared to in the same way, so Autism shouldn't be either. Conversations about Autism are so important and do need to be had and encouraged but they need to be the right ones. Celebrating, acknowledging, respecting, accepting, empowering and not trivialising Autism.
#misstrout #IAmMe #ThisCouldbeDyl #autism #autismawareness #actuallyautistic