Autism-related support often requires paperwork, or at least some evidence of a formal diagnosis. I feel like neurotypical people forget this, particularly neurotypical parents, teachers and professionals when traits are picked up on in children.
“We don’t want to reduce them to a label” is a bad reason for withholding assessment and diagnosis. I’d still be autistic whether my diagnosis happened or not – but without it, I wouldn’t have been able to understand myself through that lens, and my self-esteem would probably be through the floor after years of expecting myself to conform exactly with my neurotypical peers. And besides, giving someone a label can only be said to “reduce” them if you don’t see that label as compatible with the rest of a person’s humanity, and that, folks, is ableism.
“But they get good grades” is a bad reason for eschewing formal procedures, because believe it or not, grades aren’t the only thing that matter. So many aspects of a child’s life aren’t measured by their grades.
“But they’re so high-functioning” is a bad reason for locking someone out of the system. I’ve written before about why functioning labels are unhelpful and ableist, but for these purposes, the important point is that how well someone can pass for neurotypical (and let’s face it, that’s what neurotypicals mean by “high-functioning”) can and will change as the person’s life changes.
In particular, people who are deemed “high-functioning” at a young age often struggle much more with the increased demands of adult life. This isn’t something to be ashamed of – or at least it shouldn’t be. With the right support, we can still thrive.
With the right support.
But support requires paperwork.
And some adults in various positions block paperwork in the toxic push to distance children from their own neurology, whether by forcing them to pass for neurotypical or insisting on pretending that they are indeed neurotypical.
When these kids grow into adults, and find they need more support, they may engage with the formal procedures themselves and at long last get the paperwork they need. But a great many of them will be told “But you’ve gone this far without support, so you must not need it”.
Intentionally or not, when you try to distance autistic people from their autism, you’re setting them a trap.