• Ridgewood, NY
Growing up, every autistic person learns one thing: that their needs are less important than those of others. Those of us diagnosed in childhood suffer from the certain kind of medicopsychiatric trauma of repeatingly being told that our way of being is simply wrong: Stop walking on your toes or we’ll put you in splints; Look me in the eye; Don’t cause a scene. And those of us who escaped diagnosis still suffer the ramifications of our needs being dismissed as too unusual, or too childish, or even just too inappropriate to be tolerated by polite, neurotypical society.
As adults, this childhood trauma replicates itself in our personal lives. And for those of us whose skills are deemed useful enough by society to find employment (for better or worse), this trauma manifests itself in traditional workplace power structures. Under the guise of “it’s just business”, we are ignored, gaslit, emotionally manipulated, told that our boundaries are “too much”, and expected to have empathy for those who have no empathy for us.
I come here to say: resist people’s demands and attempts to control your boundaries. You don’t owe anyone ableist assumptions about how you should function.
Trust, honesty, and comfort are all things we can give people who have taken the time to understand us, to treat us as equally intelligent human beings capable of advocating for ourselves and our needs. Don’t give these precious things away to those who don’t deserve them.
- You don’t owe anyone trust.
- You don’t owe anyone honesty.
- You don’t owe anyone comfort.
Our lives have been spent making up for our differences; resist the neurotypical narrative that we have to make up for them. Be assertive and stand up for yourself. Learn to create beautiful relationships with people where you respect each other’s differing needs. Know when to accomodate others and when to push them to accomodate you. And resist.