Why I don’t hate autism (or, it’s Autism Acceptance Day!)

The back-and-forth between autistics and autism parents has been going on for a while now, and has been quite pronounced in recent weeks. The conversations tend to go like this:

Parents: We hate autism.

Autistics: Stop telling your kids you hate them!

Parents: We don’t hate our kids, we just hate their autism.

Autistic: You can’t separate the autism from the person.

There’s also often a tangent about hating autism because it is making their kids miserable. Which I can understand, because we all hate things that make ourselves or our loved ones miserable. For instance:

I hate that we live in a world that preaches tolerance but doesn’t practice it.

I hate that any deviation from ‘normal’ is considered to be ‘lesser’.

I hate that I live in a country where people attempt to encourage independence by tearing down the social supports that allow many people to actually be independent.

I hate that bullying is often dismissed as a ‘rite of passage’ and ‘kids being kids’.

I do not hate autism or being autistic, any more than I hate being female. Both are aspects of who I am, things that have shaped me from birth onwards. I hate that life is often harder for me because of those things, but that is not intrinsic to those aspects of my identity. Rather, it is the society I live in that causes me misery, a society that tries to create one-size-fits-all answers to problems, that tries to force every person into the same narrow mold. And every person who says that zie ‘hates autism’ is reinforcing the very power structures that cause me and thousands of other people needless suffering.

I do not suffer from being autistic. I suffer from living in a society that refuses to let me be anything other than ‘normal’.

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