It’s time we stop pathologizing different neurotypes and get to the root of the problem: we all need individualized care.
Instead of putting the onus of “functionality” on the individual, we need to really evaluate how the systems we have in place (this capitalist, white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchy) put us all at disadvantages depending on the identities we hold. No two autistic people are the same, just as no two neurotypicals are the same.
Let’s start a conversation about what is actually needed: comprehensive universal healthcare and social infrastructure that evaluates the individual’s needs and accommodates appropriately. There is no such thing as a “high” or “low” functioning human. There are only humans who need a more accommodating/understanding/patient environment. Whatever “level” humans operate at, makes them just that—human. Functioning labels serve no one but those who feel the need to “organize” for hierarchy’s sake.
I consider myself disabled due to the combination of my chronic disease and neurodivergence (autism w/ADHD). This means that even though you’ll see me dancing and often “functioning” at the expected level in most social situations, there are days where I can barely get out of bed, let alone get to the store or talk with people in any meaningful way. Social and sensory triggers play a HUGE role in my “functionality,” on top of having a body that fights itself on a daily basis.
Autism is not a condition or disorder.
But it CAN be a disability when needs aren’t met. When the metric for disability is based in how an individual is able to “perform” socially, or independently, suddenly a whole lot of people are either “low functioning” or are able to mask super well which causes its own problems. It’s degrading. We are all worthy of love, dignity, and respect.
When it comes to disabilities that can only be accommodated for so far (from executive functioning issues to having seizures), we have the opportunity to see disability as a non-linear spectrum, as we see autism. Certain disabilities will put a person at a disadvantage compared to others in whatever environment. This is why it’s even more crucial that we have individualized care. And when accommodating for one disability impedes someone else with a different disability, a compromise must be reached.
We are humans of great capacity!
We literally have ALL the power to make our society inclusive and accommodating for *everyone*. We accommodate for everything we can, we do better when we learn better, and we interact with each other with dignity and respect. It all comes down to compassionate communication and individual needs (which is not to say similar needs can’t be serviced collectively, just that systems need to operate on a more personal level than they do now).
So why don’t we make this shift happen? Because the way things are now keep people poor and dependent and allows those in power to stay in power by exploiting others. We can start dismantling these awful structures by changing our language to be more compassionate and inclusive. Will you join me?