My friend Hannah and I look nothing alike but we both look autistic simply because all autistic people look like themselves. Autism is a part of a person’s identity. There is no one look that autistics must have to match their identity.
When you say “you don’t look autistic” it’s not a compliment and here’s why;
- I am autistic. I know my identity but you’re questioning it. That’s incredibly uncomfortable, especially given that this comment is usually presents itself in a situation where the person receiving such comment feels the need the grin and bare in response. We don’t feel as though we can present a defence against the comment.
- We must sit with that discomfort in a place where we are masking for extended periods of time until we can process it comfortably.
- That comment reminds us of our ability to mask despite not wanting to have to mask to begin with.
- It can be divisive between those who can mask well enough to get the comment and those who can’t when we just want to be a united community.
- It reinforces a harmful stereotype. Need I say more?
- It’s a concept that simply does not exist. It’s a misconstrued concept of how you think autism should “look” as compared to the educated knowledge that no two autistics are the same therefore you can’t have any one image to project.
Please stop using this harmful language and be an inclusive ally.
I am autistic therefore I look like I’m autistic even if it doesn’t fit your stereotype image. Just like I look like a Caucasian without looking like every other Caucasian.