It doesn’t matter how much research allistic people do and then call themselves experts, we as autistic people are the experts, so we need to encourage people to talk to us.
We can live our lives on our own terms being an example of what being autistic looks like which we also know is a broad presentation of differences. Trying too hard to educate people with knowledge about autism can often ends up sounding like we are talking at people rather than to them. Using us and them approaches can create separation and may contribute to the possibility of receiving the opposite of what we are trying to be achieve.
Language that takes the naughty stick has an authority angle rather than explaining which is more inclusive thus people may be more likely to become more interested and ask questions when they ae included. Leading by example is sometimes more powerful as we are perfect examples to teach about autism. Having attachments to outcomes leads to more suffering when we expect people to get it straight away.
Human beings are human so although it may be frustrating from our end that people may not be learning as quickly as we would like, it is good to remember we are all process differently. If we meet people where they are, we can speak to them having no preconceived judgements and expectations from them. After all isn’t this what we want as an autistic person from others. If we experience pathologising behaviour and language towards us, it is a reflection on them not us. Many learned behaviours have been engrained deeply in society, so its’ not a quick fix to changing hearts and minds.
Ableism is common and many do not even know their behaviour or thoughts are ableist, because it is a learned behaviour and why awareness is so important. I see many people display ableism including autistic people. Rejecting internalised ableism leads to better self-worth and compassion towards ourselves and others. Although it may be unintentional, labelling ourselves with pathologising language is ableism, and through this we may be teaching other people to be ableists as well.
Shame was projected onto many of us early in life and due to that many have adopted ableist terms about others, and themselves to make light of their differences for so called acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t have anything to do with pride as pride has more to do with the emotional response to what has been stigmatised. I have for the most part lived my life on my own terms, and it was tough growing up and well into my adult’s years facing so much ridicule and judgement.
Pathologising is a language of judgement where other people are treated differently and views them as abnormal or sick. They make assumptions and have preconceived ideas about a person or a group of people. Many behaviours and language in society are learned and why we have stigma, ableism and pathologising behaviours.
The most common things people pathologise are mental illness and behaviours of others. Pathologising people can lead to shame and fuel a lot of anxiety in people, making it hard for them to truly express their experiences. Pathologising in relationships is a form of emotional abuse, because if people use a person’s diagnosis that has been stigmatised to call them names like crazy, paranoid, neurotic, stupid, it is emotional abuse.
Using harmful labels like dismiss another person’s experience in life and makes assumptions about what we think we know about a person. This highlights the real issue with pathologising, as it enables people to put people in a box making them out of sight, out of mind.