I label myself as “Autistic+” and I advocate for a change in mindset within the autism community:
1) Instead of seeing autism as a disease/disorder that we need to recover from, I suggest we see it as a different mode of human consciousness that can manifest itself in many different ways, some of which are advantageous and some disadvantageous.
2) Instead of holding autism up as the central part of our identity, we can see it as just one of the many parts of us that makes us special. This way, we will be more open to participating in and developing our other identities.
3) Instead of focusing on our diagnosis/labels, focus instead of how our skills, talents and knowledge can make important contributions to potential employers and partners. As a friend said, “sell our skills and not our diagnosis”.
4) Instead of simply demanding that neurotypicals reach out to autistics, autistics should also take the initiative to reach out to neurotypicals and find ways to understand them. Likewise for neurotypicals when dealing with autistics. Let us build bridges from both ends.
As a pragmatic person, I believe that ideals should take a back seat to reality. Most people probably can agree with me on the following:
1) It is an advantage to have the option/ability to integrate with mainstream society, such as finding a satisfying job, starting a family and achieving material success.
2) The inability to integrate with mainstream society makes us reliant on other people for financial support. However, there is no free lunch in this world. Our sponsor will usually limit our freedom and create much frustration.
3) The inability to integrate with mainstream society imposes demands on others to take care of us, often causing much pain and hardship. It is morally wrong to make life difficult for others if we have the ability to choose otherwise.
4) We will be judged based on our material successes and ability to function in mainstream society, regardless of how proud or ashamed we are of autism. We will be judged based on our body language, speech and behavior no matter if we like it or not.
5) Our society is dominated by NeuroTypicals. As a small minority, autistics are expected to make more effort to accommodate to the majority than vice-versa.
6) We are all better off working together to help each other, rather than arguing and sabotaging each other’s efforts.
7) Mutual respect is the minimum requirement for us to listen to each other and work together for our mutual benefit.
8) Being able to access both autistic and NeuroTypical consciousness at the same time is advantageous and enriching to our lives.
I believe that it will be most beneficial for autistics to take the initiative to reach out to the mainstream NeuroTypical society. Autism advocates can make their work more relevant by paying attention to the big picture of what is happening outside of the autism community and using our special gifts to help the rest of the world.
Autistics can also benefit greatly from by working with and healing the trauma and pain within themselves, as well as dealing with their biomedical issues, so that they have the energy and confidence to take charge of their own lives.
Until we empower ourselves to move beyond autism, the world will not be able to see our true potential.