As a blogger, I’m no stranger to comments and how vicious they can be.
There was the woman who questioned my parenting and suggested my kids be taken by CPS because of how long it took to get my son’s autism diagnosis.
There was the man that said I was a “snowflake breeding snowflakes” because I explained the difference between a tantrum and sensory meltdown.
But recently, I had a comment that I was absolutely shocked by.
I saw that the original woman who blogged about this claims to have autism while also having a famous, very busy, blog, a lularoe business that keeps her and her husband home full-time, and raises five children all successfully all at the same time. I don’t know one high-functioning autistic person who I believe could handle all of that. And I know a few. I couldn’t even handle all of that and I’m not autistic. So I would be hard-pressed to think that she wasn’t using the label of autism very, very lightly in order to further her cause a little bit, which I find offensive.
I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading.
I expected a comment like this when I originally shared my story about learning I’m autistic. But now? Months later on a completely unrelated post? I didn’t expect it.
I didn’t really know how to respond. So I approved the post and let the comment sit in the back of my mind.
Now, after some thought, I’m ready to respond.
To the Woman Who Questioned My Autism, Let’s Chat.
When I read your comment there was a lot to unpack.
It was the first time someone so brazenly questioned the validity of my autism.
I’ve had some eye rolls, sure, and I’ve gotten a few “but you have friends?” but never has someone so openly suggested I’m, how did you put it, “using the label of autism very, very lightly”.
But what hit harder than you not believing that I’m really autistic, was why you think I’m faking it.
To further my cause?
I’m not sure if you know this, and I’m guessing you don’t because you don’t seem to have much knowledge about autism, but being autistic makes it harder to advocate for autistic people.
Parents and experts routinely ignore the voices of Autists. I could “further my cause” (which, by the way, is just to fight for disabled people to have basic rights and respect) much better by denying that I’m autistic.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s really dive into the meat of your comment.
Autistic People Have Real Lives
I read your comment several times over the last few days, and one point struck me every single time.
It really seems as though you don’t know this, but… Autistic people have real lives.
We grow up. We get married. We have children. We have jobs.
Now of course, every autist is different. Not everyone will do those things, just like not every neurotypical person will do all of those things.
Almost like autistic people are, you know… People.
Autistic Women Face This Judgment Constantly
I’d also just love to let you know that autistic women face this judgment constantly.
See, autistic girls are different than autistic boys.
The diagnostic criteria for autism was written for boys. It’s based on the way a stereotypical autistic boy presents.
It can be incredibly difficult for autistic women to get a diagnosis, and many of us (like me) grew up believing that there was just something wrong with us.
Autistic People Can Be Successful
Autistic people can be successful.
Let me say that again, because it’s important that you take this away from this letter.
Autistic. People. Can. Be. Successful.
Just off the top of my head, I know of autistic authors, public speakers, doctors, and even talk show hosts.
Ever heard of Temple Grandin?
She’s an autistic scientist, doctor, public speaker, and more.
Do you know why she’s able to do all of these things?
Because she learned to use her autism as her strength instead of viewing it as a weakness and she pushed back when people like you believed autistics couldn’t succeed.
I’m Sorry Your View of Autistics is so Skewed
Ultimately I want to tell you that I’m sorry that your view of autistic people is so skewed.
I’m sorry that you see someone with five kids, a successful business, and a blog and believe that it’s impossible I’m autistic.
I’m also sorry that because you can’t do something you believe that no one that’s autistic can do it either.
I’m sorry that you clearly don’t know enough autistic people. We’re pretty awesome, and maybe if you stopped questioning our autism we’d be your friend.
I Hope This Letter Finds You
Really, I hope this letter finds you.
I hope you read it and take time to really learn.
Learn that autistics are people. Learn that we have families. We run businesses.
And we do it despite people like you believing that we can’t.