I’m post-autistic. Saying I’m not autistic is disingenuous, but I’m not in love with the label and use it only for convenience and politics. Here’s why, in classic bullet-point form:

  • I keep finding myself thinking, “What the hell do you mean by autistic, anyway?” This is because there are several neurotypes associated with the diagnostic criteria for autism, not one. (But I also don’t think the old structure was ideal, either, since the Asperger Syndrome construct was also heterogeneous—and connected with a Nazi collaborator.)
  • The accommodations each autistic person needs are too heterogeneous for a single label. People with intellectual disabilities have relatively straightforward accommodations: slower instructional pace, easier materials, more explanations, more patience, more adaptive supports. Autistic people, on the other hand? Make it faster, make it slower. Be more abstract, be less abstract. Be more explicit, be less explicit. Be more linear, be less linear. Use a firm and even tone, be sensitive to your tone of voice and adapt it as necessary. These accommodations are sometimes self-contradictory.
  • I have honestly had an easier time with many non-autistic managers than autistic ones, despite our both being autistic. This is because some autistic people in positions of authority use an ABA-like approach to managing. Your feelings don’t matter, only your behaviour, and they never sit down to try to understand why you may be responding a certain way.
  • Attributing all my eccentrities and atypical abilities to autism reminds me too much of my early childhood, where everything, everything, that wasn’t standard issue was attributed to PDD-NOS, and therefore ready to be restricted, tamed, denied, or suppressed.
  • I hate the “high-functioning”/“low-functioning” bullshit. The same goes for “you’re not like my child.” But acknowledging that the autism label is imperfect, or that it shouldn’t be used in a totalising way, is not the same thing as that.
  • Autism isn’t always a developmental disability. It’s better described as asynchronous or differentiated development, especially among certain populations.
  • I have less in common with hyposensitive autistic people than I do with neurotypicals. I’m hypersensitive, that’s why, and NTs and hypersensitive autistic people are better at picking up tone of voice and body language than hyposensitive autistic people. (My affect is calm, though, and it’s hard to get a rise out of me despite my sensitivity.)
  • I think some people end up using the autism label to pathologise being highly intelligent, creative, or sensitive—and the saddening part is that I keep seeing creative, sensitive, and intelligent people using the diagnosis to apologise for themselves. That’s heartbreaking.

I’ll write more about post-autism later, but these are preliminary thoughts, always subject to change and refinement.