written by Katie Munday
The autism training that many professionals are mandated to do, if they are at all, is usually outdated and steeped in the deficit model which suggests that Autistic people need fixing. These ideas, under the guise of continued professional development, mean that many professionals continue to oppress and marginalise us. Many professionals, with the inaccurate information they have been given, treat us like children or disbelieve us in our experiences. Most of these professionals mean well but the damage is still happening and of course there are professionals who do not value Autistic people at all. The intention of how they treat us is irrelevant if harm and hate is taking place.
If any of us fight back against poor treatment we fall right into their ideas of deficiency. Autism training which labels us socially inappropriate becomes self-prophesying, as our advocacy is misinterpreted as poor behaviour. This is the case for ‘challenging behaviour’ which is usually a response to the environment and treatment of an individual than their supposed moral ineptitude or lack of impulse control.
Much of the training on autism is inaccurate and does not run parallel to many Autistic people’s experiences, it certainly does not match the children and young people I work with, or my own Autistic embodiment. Current allistic-led autism training is not only incorrect but also harmful, as it frames Autistic people as wild, uninhibited non-humans.
As a person who has worked with Autistic and otherwise Disabled young people for over 10 years (way before my own Autistic discovery), autism training worries me greatly. The words ‘disordered’, ‘lacking’ , ‘incapable’ are not words I’d use to describe any group of people. These words suggest that Autistic people are failed neuro-normative people.
We are not failed humans; we are just humans.
So, if you want or need to take a form of autism training, I’d suggest looking for work which is Autistic-led and created. Work which is neuro-affirming, discussing the difficulties and the joy of being Autistic, whilst also appreciating that many of us have support needs.
Thankfully, this work already exists. Some of is freely available online in the form of blogs and videos and some are paid training run by Autistic professionals. If you do decide to have an Autistic person come into your work for a speaking engagement ensure they are accommodated and paid accordingly, our time and experience if worth paying for. We all have different access to education but there is truly no substitute for lived experience. Ditch the deficit, learn from Autistic people and pay for our knowledge.
Katie is a late diagnosed Autistic person with OCD and Attention Hyperactivity. They train, speak and write on all things Autistic experience, with particular interest and expertise in gender and sexuality.
Their work can be found on Facebook and Twitter as Autistic and Living the Dream. And on their website: