Point 4 from Sometimes my Heart Hurts for your Child
Over on Speaking of Autism… Quincy has written a heartfelt piece aimed primarily at the autism community, but it is also relevant to the wider neurotypical (non-autistic) community.
The article is quite long (approximately 9 minutes reading time), and each of the points Quincy makes shows how much the autism community fails to understand the autistic community. For this reason, I’m re-posting each point as a separate article here, because each point is important.
Before I start, I feel I need to explain the difference between the “autism community” and the “autistic community” The autistic community consists of people who are autistic, whereas the autism community consists mainly people who are directly or indirectly involved with autistic people (typically family members and those involved in the “treatment” of autism), but are not typically autistic themselves.
Each of Quincy’s points illustrates just how far the autism community and the wider community has to go to meet the autistic community even part way.
You parrot myths about autism
I have seen it written on these autism parenting blogs things like “autistic people lack empathy” or “autistic people have no imagination” or “autistic people have no theory of mind” and even “autistic people don’t feel emotions.”
And it’s frustrating to know they think this about their child and other autistics because they’re all totally wrong. Any autistic person knows this. Many autistic people could tell you this, and we’ve been saying that these myths are wrong for decades now, and yet nobody will listen. The ironic part is, though, that the opposite of these myths is actually true. Autistic people feel emotions and empathy as being more intense. Autistic people I’ve found to be typically more imaginative, and outside the box thinkers. And, no, autistic people do not lack theory of mind, I assure you we are aware that other people have minds that are distinct from our own.
The difference is in expression. We express emotions and empathy in different ways, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have them. Nor does different mean broken. Autistic kids may not have tea parties with their stuffed animals, but this doesn’t mean they have no imagination. Lining up toy cars may seem mindless to you, but it’s not a display of a lack of imagination. It’s different. But different does not mean wrong.