Feminist Aspie

Autistic people need diagnosis, not denial

on March 10, 2017

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.


13 responses to “Autistic people need diagnosis, not denial

  1. […] Source: Autistic people need diagnosis, not denial […]

  2. This is something I REALLY, REALLY struggle with for my son. He just began high school and is adamantly against being seen as “autistic” or “disabled” in any way, even though I teach him pride in himself just as he is All. The.Time. I myself am neurodiverse and proud of it! But there’s that conformity thing in high school – and the not wanting to be different thing…I am holding off on any sort of major paperwork for now (we have diagnoses etc) because HE is so resistant. But at some point I know he will need help to transition to living on his own, if that will be possible…
    Thanks and love,
    Full Spectrum Mama

  3. […] Source: Autistic people need diagnosis, not denial […]

  4. asymmetra says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. The co-founder of the local autistic group I’m a member of is anti-label. It saddens me because I diagree (I love labels, let me keep them) and because he’s very active when it comes to autistic rights in in my area. It’s probably a generation gap sort of thing, but all I can think of is how damaging it is when he tells Autistics, parents and professionals not to focus on labels, which he sees as dangerous in a “labels reduce people oh no” way.

    Since I’m somewhat new in the group I don’t feel comfortable pointing these things out, other than perhaps talking about what labels mean to me. It keeps bugging me (it’s damaging and all that) and I want to do something about it, but I don’t know how. Do you have any ideas?

  5. Rosa Spinosa says:

    Thank you for the enlightening blog
    I am totally for labels (though I never thought that I would be), but maybe that is an age thing.
    I spent my entire life being told that I am not normal, so there was no way that I ever suffered from the illusion of normality, but what exactly is different about me, I was never told. I was just wrong in the eyes of the Normal World.Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Just recently, an acquaintance ( an Aspie himself) told me that he is convinced that I am autistic – just like that, at first glance. After recovering from the shock, I decided to read as much as I could about autism. And guess what? I think he is right. In fact, I am convinced that he is right. Now, the only problem is getting a referral so that I can get a diagnosis. Need I tell you what the responses have been so far? No, because most people have been there before me and know just how stubborn neurotypicals can be. Yes, I want my label. If not to get support, then at least for clarification and peace of mind – for myself. So I am not ‘normal’ and I can live with that

  6. […] Feminist Aspie explains why not “labeling” children is a mistake […]

  7. Thank you for this. My son has just been diagnosed autistic, even though we’ve suspected it for a long time. I for one, am so glad to have an answer and a clearer direction to go with him.

  8. Sherron0 says:

    It seems so simple to understand. I am often mystified at the level of denial parents (and sometimes the Autistically-Blessed person themselves) can achieve.

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