A – Accepting
Meaning other autistics are up for being my friend – they’re accepting of my autistic expression, just as I am of theirs.
NTs will accept me as part of their group or as a collaborator on a project, but are reluctant to hang out with me 1:1 – be my friend.
B – Balancing
Meaning sometimes newly diagnosed autistic children need time to be with their thoughts about diagnosis.
If they’re unsure that being autistic is a positive thing, it can help for parents to talk to them in a balanced way, making them aware of the advantages of being autistic, but also the struggle.
That means the part of the child that experiences being autistic as struggle, feels validated and affirmed.
C – Collaborating
Meaning there’s a profile within autism called PDA.
The official name of PDA is Pathological Demand Avoidance, but let’s not think of it like that.
In the autistic community, some of us experience PDA as demand avoidance, while others, like me, experience it as Pervasive Desire for Autonomy.
PDA children and adults can thrive in collaboration, because in collaboration, we retain autonomy.
D – Decompressing
I learned in my mid-thirties I couldn’t work full time.
Part time work is a better option for me than full time – the reality of burnout means I need time to decompress.
Had I always known I was autistic, and about the huge stress being autistic puts on my ability to regulate, I’d have understood far earlier the nature of what made me burn out.
As it was, I acted intuitively, accommodating what I first called ‘anxiety’, then ‘trauma’, then ‘ADHD’, then finally ‘autism’, by putting every bit of spare money into reducing my hours.
E – Empathising
Meaning as an autistic, I can feel obligated to make myself understandable to NTs:
My therapist disagrees with this, writing:
***As for double empathy, that’s a two-way street. I don’t accept the only requirement is that you make yourself understandable to the neuro-typical world. It has to accept you as yourself***
F – Forcing
Meaning when ABA therapists (really ABA conversion abusers) use behavioural compliance training to encourage autistic children to give up their natural autistic expression for unnatural NT expression, using rewards as bait, then what they’re really doing is forcing children to give up something precious – expression of their true selves.
G – Gatekeeping
Meaning any autistic who doesn’t acknowledge self-identification is gatekeeping.
H – Hiding
Meaning we can experience our autistic traits ‘worsening’, on recognising ourselves as autistic, but our traits aren’t really ‘worsening’.
Instead, we can see it that now we know we’re autistic, the strategies we used to hide our autistic expression and needs, are no longer working.
I – Imposing
Meaning autistic children deserve better than having a reward system imposed on them by an adult, to get them doing something unnatural to their autistic nature, like looking a person in the eyes, quieting unquiet hands, speaking in an NT way.
J – Judging
Meaning today’s response to those who judge autistic expression and needs is, “Why do some people feel the need to judge another person’s experience with no knowledge, making themselves look ridiculous? Some people! There’s always one!”
K – Knowing
Meaning the reason I know I’m autistic without seeking formal diagnosis, is I’ve studied me, my dad, and my late mum.
I’ve mapped the myriad ways we diverge from the standard neurotype of the NT.
I’ve noticed that the constellation of traits all three of us have, spell out autism.
Thus, I recognise us as autistic.
L – Letting be
Meaning children’s autistic expression is sacrosanct. If it’s not harming the child or anyone else, if the only thing troubling about it, is other children don’t do it, then parents seeking to reduce or eliminate the child’s autistic expression isn’t the answer.
Instead, the answer is for parents to enjoy the child’s natural expression or at the very least, let it be.
Children’s autistic expression can be how they regulate themselves.
Let them be!
M – Masking
Meaning masking is autistic children suppressing their autistic expression in order to pass indistinguishable from NT children.
Masking is really bad for autistic children.
Imagine the days when left-handed children were forced to write right-handed.
Now apply that to every aspect of autistic expression.
Autistic children who mask need support not to.
N – Naming
Meaning parents whose child is newly diagnosed, can use the language given them by clinicians – “your child has autism” or “you have a child with autism”.
It’s up to the autistic community to point out we prefer Identity First Language (IFL) to Person First Language (PFL).
We can point out that this newly diagnosed autistic child is a new member of a vibrant autistic community – they’re welcome, as are their parents.
O – Owning
Meaning I prefer autistic children to have ownership of what they do, coming to activities in their own time, pace and way.
I live like that as an adult. I wouldn’t want to impose on a child a philosophy I wouldn’t adhere to myself.
P – Preferring
Meaning the autistic community overwhelmingly prefers ‘autistic’ to euphemisms for autism like ‘on the spectrum’.
If an autistic child grows up surrounded by adults who don’t say the word ‘autistic’, then that sends the child the message there’s something wrong with being autistic – there isn’t.
Autistic is a lovely word – say the word!
R – Recognising
I recognised myself as autistic in my mid-forties, choosing self-identification over formal diagnosis.
I’d place a bet that undiagnosed autistic children/adults outnumber those diagnosed by a significant margin.
The autistic neurotype isn’t always visible to the human eye, especially if the autistic child/adult is used to hiding it and/or their autistic presentation doesn’t fit the autism myths.
Many autistic children go undetected, especially if they hit developmental milestones or don’t present as autistic at school; and especially if they’re female/AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth).
S – Seeing
Meaning one reason I see it as helpful being ‘out’ as autistic, is because I’ve had a lifetime of NTs interpreting my direct communication as rude.
Of course, I’m not rude. Communicating differently from NTs isn’t rude, – there’s more to rudeness than that.
If I’m ‘out’ as autistic, I can say, “My autistic communication is different to yours. I’d prefer you to accept that, instead of calling it rude.”
At the very least, that creates a foundation for dialogue.
T – Tone policing
Meaning NTs can dislike my tone, deciding it’s one or more of rude, threatening, aggressive or confrontational.
All I can say is, “I’m autistic – this is my natural tone and what’s natural cannot be wrong.”
U – Unaccepting
Meaning my being autistic isn’t the problem.
The problem is that the neuromajority can find my autistic expression unacceptable for no better reason than they’re not used to it.
That’s discrimination and needs to change.
V – Violating
Meaning although it can feel that being in a room full of NTs, is violating their social codes, cues, norms, niceties and hierarchies, I have as much liberty to express myself in my autistic way as they have to express themselves in their NT way.
No-one’s neurotype has to change. Mutual acceptance is the way forward.