Mixed race identity musings

In my latest Minority Musings podcast episode, my guest, Valentia, and I talked about race. Valentia originally came from Ghana, and so we shared our experiences of coming to the UK from abroad at a young age. We also discussed what it means to be Black or biracial in the UK. If you are interested, please listen to the full episode here.

One thing I mentioned, which I have often reflected on, is the mismatch between my identity, as a half English/half Taiwanese person living in the UK, and how people in this country often see me. I live in England. I only speak English. I’m only in touch with the English side of my family. I probably even have a similar mindset and set of biases to most English people. Yet I’ve still had strangers make assumptions about me because I look slightly Asian. I’ve had passers-by shout racist insults at me. I used to get teased at school because of my race. I’ve had well-meaning people see me as a foreigner, even when I make it clear that I have lived in the UK for most of my life. These may seem like small things, but they can feel very alienating.

On a similar note, it really irritates me when people go on about how proud they are to be fully English (or American, or any predominantly white heritage). If they are English, they might also complain, for good measure, about how anyone these days can call themselves “British”*, which apparently makes being “British” meaningless. Sound familiar?

When people get all patriotic and self-righteous about this, it makes me want to ask: is it a great achievement to be born in England (or anywhere in the UK, or the US) to two fully white parents? Do fully white, fully English people choose this over some inherently inferior** option of one or both parents being a different race? Have they ever had to overcome deeply ingrained shame and fear surrounding their race? Do they think they are so much better than those of us who aren’t 100% white? Being proud of one’s culture is one thing. White/pureblood supremacy is quite another.

I should add that I know I get off fairly lightly compared to many Black people, Muslims or (fully) Asian people. I have never been afraid for my life because of my race, nor have I ever had people be afraid of me (as far as I know). I cannot honestly say my experience is on par with those who have ever been hated or attacked because of their race. On the other hand, I have had to deal with insults and assumptions that most people in this country are unlikely to ever face. I feel partly privileged and partly marginalised regarding race, yet I don’t fully identify with either side.

I realise this post may be less informative or entertaining than many of my recent posts, but it’s something I’ve been meaning to discuss here for a while. Please note that this is not an attack on anyone; it’s just my musings and observations as a mixed-race person raised in a predominantly white country. Any readers in a similar position are welcome to share their thoughts and experiences or correct my use of language. Finally, for a more in-depth discussion on how to talk about race, please give the podcast a listen. The more the merrier!

 

*To clarify for non-British people: Britain = England, Scotland and Wales. UK = Britain and Northern Ireland

**Please note the sarcasm here

 

The puzzle piece problem

CW: Autism Speaks, ableism, ABA and other “treatments”.

The puzzle piece is arguably the most recognised symbol associated with autism, and has been around for decades. It is also a highly controversial topic in the autism community*, and is becoming increasingly unpopular with autistic people. I touched upon it here a few weeks ago. It has been promoted by many neurotypical-led autism organisations that have shared various questionable interpretations of it, namely:

  • Autistic people suffer from a “puzzling” condition (we don’t; we suffer from ableism and lack of support)
  • Finding a treatment/cure is a puzzle that needs to be solved
  • The pieces of an autistic person’s brain do not fit

Sometimes the puzzle piece will be blue, based on the misconception that autism is a boys’ condition. This is largely associated with Autism Speaks, the leading autism organisation in America – more on that in a bit. Sometimes a symbol will show several brightly coloured puzzle pieces, with the bright colours representing “hope” – for cures and eradication, not support and understanding. Sometimes it will show several interlocked puzzle pieces with one askew or missing altogether. Sometimes the puzzle piece will be on the same ribbon symbol that is used for raising awareness of cancer and other illnesses. 

There are still plenty of people – mainly neurotypical, but also autistic – who like the puzzle piece and try to interpret it positively. They might argue that it represents how connected the autism community* is, or how puzzling life can be as an autistic person. Some go as far as to complain about how easily offended its naysayers are. Neurotypicals: please don’t speak over us on issues like this!

Now if its aesthetic appeal or personal interpretation were the only issues at stake, I might be more neutral on it. The issue for me is the ableist history it represents. As I mentioned previously, it is used as a logo for many harmful organisations, namely Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is widely loathed by the autistic community* for many reasons. Firstly, it is notorious for demonising autism and using scare tactics and pathologising language when describing it to parents. Second, only a small percentage of its funds goes towards supporting autistic people. Third, it has only included one autistic person on its team, and that person left because they were not comfortable with its ethics. Fourth, it has promoted harmful cures, such as bleach and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA).

To clarify, ABA is a behavioural therapy that aims to eradicate autistic traits in children by rewarding compliance and neurotypical behaviour and punishing resistance and autistic behaviour. Punishments can include anything from withdrawal of attention, food or toys to electric shocks, squirting hot sauce in the eyes and general physical abuse. Needless to say, many people who went through it as children have developed PTSD and other mental illnesses.

I hope it goes without saying that I think we shouldn’t be promoting a symbol that is associated with abuse and discrimination. For a better alternative, there is the neurodiversity infinity symbol – gold for autism, rainbow for neurodiversity as a whole. The concept of neurodiversity is that there are many different brains that are all a part of natural human diversity, and all are equally valid. There is also the gold “Au” symbol, which is shorthand for autism, as well as the symbol for Gold in the periodic table. Either way, we are not missing a piece, nor do we need to be fixed. Save the “cure” mindset for conditions that actually cause suffering, and focus on dismantling systemic ableism instead.

 

 

 

*Autism community = anyone with a connection to autism. Autistic community = autistic people.

Note that this post was partly inspired by an article on intheloopaboutneurodiversity.com, which can be found here.

All images are from Canva.com.

To understand more about autism from the inside, please buy my book: Approaching Autistic Adulthood: The Road Less Travelled. You can find it on Amazon or any UK bookshops such as WH Smiths or Waterstones. Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon to boost the book’s online visibility. Meanwhile, to find out more about me and my work, please visit my website: Artistic Autistic Grace.

A busy few weeks: birthday celebrations, book marketing, public speaking and two new cats

As the title indicates, life has been hectic lately, and I have not had as much time or headspace for blogging as usual. I’d been planning to write more Autism Acceptance themed blog posts this month, but I have had a lot of things going on lately that deserve a mention first. So here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to.

Firstly, on Monday 7th March, a friend invited me to talk about my book and answer questions at her book group. Several members already knew someone who was autistic, and wanted to understand better. Everyone had plenty of questions, we had some great discussions, and I much appreciate being invited!

Then on Saturday 26th March, I sold copies of my book at States of Independence at my old uni, De Montfort University. States of Independence is a yearly event featuring writing-themed talks, book launches and indie authors and students selling their writing. I joined forces with an old friend and fellow author Katherine Hetzel, who very kindly gave me a lift, and we shared a table. I got talking to plenty of people who were interested in my book, and even had a catch-up with a few of my old lecturers!

Shortly after that, I had my first public speaking event! A few months ago, my stepdad put me in touch with a friend who works at the University of Sheffield. Long story short, this person pulled a few strings, and on Tuesday 29th March, I went to Sheffield to give a talk about autism at university and work. The people there were really helpful, and gave away 20 free copies of my book to people who turned up. The audience were a mix of people – largely students – who were autistic or who knew someone who was. They asked some thought-provoking questions at the end, then the people organising the event took me out to Wetherspoons before my train home.

For a more detailed account of my talk and States of Independence, go to the homepage of my website and scroll down.

Meanwhile, I am still getting to grips with my Minority Musings podcast. The other week, I released my second episode, and will be releasing a third and recording a fourth next week. Please have a listen to Episode 2: Dyslexia, ADHD and the overlap between them w/Kat Wood. The interviewee in question has even appeared on my blog in years gone by!

Amid all the above events, it was my birthday on Thursday 17th March. I’d been told some weeks previously to expect a surprise outing on the following Saturday, and so it was that on the 19th, my family and I went to see Body of Work by Hannah Gadsby at the London Palladium! Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian who is also a lesbian and late-diagnosed autistic, and whose Netflix shows, Nanette and Douglas, I am a huge fan of. Her work typically comprises her poking fun at herself, relationships, the patriarchy and autism diagnostic criteria, and Body of Work did not disappoint! It was a long day, and we didn’t get home until 1:20am, but it was a great experience, and I thank my family for making it happen.

And lastly, our new cats: 8 month old sisters Dixie and Opal! My mum adopted them from a foster family in Qatar (!!!), and they have been with us for roughly two weeks now, having been flown to Manchester Airport. They are adorable bundles of energy and love exploring, chasing things (including each other) and emptying waste paper bins. Dixie (pink collar, one eye) is the bolder of the two, and usually the first to dive headfirst into anything. Opal (blue collar) is shyer, but better at being held.

Their arrival has had mixed reactions from the other cats. Bouncer took one look at them, ate their food, then fell asleep in their bed. Suri hisses if they get too close but otherwise ignores them. Oscar has gone from from staring at them with horror to being a very enthusiastic big brother who will happily play with them. When we let them in the garden for the first time yesterday, he watched them closely and went wherever they did. Five cats is a bit of a full house, but I like to think it is working out.

 

If you would like to buy a copy of my book (Approaching Autistic Adulthood: The Road Less Travelled), please go to Amazon, or any UK bookshop such as WH Smiths or Waterstones. Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon to boost the book’s visibility. Meanwhile, please have a browse of my website: Artistic Autistic Grace.

 

Mine and Katherine’s table at States of Independence

 

My Sheffield presentation

 

My family at a Thai restaurant before Body of Work. That’s my sister’s fiancee/my future sister-in-law taking the photo

 

Outside the theatre

 

Dixie

 

Opal

Autism “Awareness” Month – what you really need to be “aware” of

For those of you who don’t know, April is officially Autism Awareness Month. You may have seen pictures on social media of buildings “lighting it up blue” for Autism Awareness. Or #autismawareness as a trending hashtag. Or well-meaning but patronising poems about autistic children. Or inspirational stories about an autistic person and the struggles they face, or what a neurotypical person has learned from them. Very often, April just sees the same old pathologising language, inspiration porn, stereotypes and ableist agenda spreading with renewed intensity. Then it passes, and nothing actually changes.

When you put it like that, it may come as no surprise that Autism Awareness Month can actually be a very uncomfortable time for autistic people. So I thought I’d write a quick post about what neurotypicals really need to be aware of in April – and it’s not autism.

For a start, please don’t support ableist organisations or resources. Some examples would be Autism Speaks (responsible for the “Light It Up Blue” movement), Turn Autism Around, Autism Hope Alliance, The Autism Community in Action and American Autism Association. To the untrained eye, I understand it might not be easy to distinguish between the reputable and less reputable ones. So if in any doubt, please consider the following:

  • Do they focus on causes and treatments, or support and acceptance?
  • Are they run purely by and for neurotypical people, or do they include and promote autistic voices? Neurotypical-led media only give an outside perspective on autism at best, and at worst, increase autism stigma.
  • Do they use pathologising, ableist language that makes autism sound like a tragedy or an illness, or do they use neurodiversity-affirming language (that is, promoting the idea that there are many different types of brain and that they are all equally valid)?
  • Do they use the puzzle piece symbol or the neurodiversity infinity symbol? The puzzle piece symbol is used by Autism Speaks, which is notorious for promoting harmful treatments, using only a small percentage of its money for helping autistic people and not including or supporting autistic voices.
  • Do they use exclusively person-first language (as preferred by many neurotypical “experts”) or do they use identity-first language (as preferred by many autistic people)?
  • Do they promote Applied Behavioural Analysis? ABA is a common behavioural therapy for autistic children, especially in the US, that aims to train autistic children to act more neurotypical by punishing resistance and autistic behaviour and rewarding compliance and masking. Autistic kids are put through this for 20-40 hours a week – the equivalent of a part-time to full-time job – and become susceptible to abuse, depression, anxiety and PTSD later in life.

With that in mind, be careful about raising money for any autism-related cause. Don’t do it for treatments, ABA, cures or scientific research. Do it for understanding, acceptance, better support and promoting autistic voices. Don’t pity “those affected by autism”. I am not “affected by autism”. I am an autistic person who is affected by neurotypical ignorance and lack of accommodation.

Take the time to learn from autistic people and to amplify what we are saying. Learn about autistic experiences – from younger and older autistic people, those with low and high support needs, those who speak, those who communicate in any other way, those of different races and cultures and those of all gender identities and sexualities. There are plenty of autistic advocates, groups and resources out there. I will include some links below.

Finally, don’t support the autistic community just to look or feel good. Do it because we need more understanding and accommodation. There are too many neurotypicals out there who won’t listen because some of us are deemed too “high functioning” to really count as autistic, while others are deemed too “low functioning” to be taken seriously. We have enough “awareness”. Let’s make April “Autism Acceptance Month”.

 

https://artistic-autistic.co.uk/ (my website)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Approaching-Autistic-Adulthood-Road-Travelled/dp/1784529575/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pl_foot_top?ie=UTF8 (my book)

https://neuroclastic.com/

https://neurodivergentrebel.com/

https://chrisbonnello.com/

https://autisticinclusivemeets.org/

https://ellemcnicoll.com/

https://mysilentvoice.blog/category/autism/

https://queerlyautistic.com/

https://autismandrace.com/

http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/

https://awnnetwork.org/

First Minority Musings podcast episode

It took me a little longer than I would have liked, but my new podcast is now off the ground! If you are in any minority category and would like to feature in an upcoming episode, please get in touch. I don’t plan on writing a blog post about every one, but as this is the first episode, I should probably promote it to the max.

Episode 1: Accepting your sexuality – bisexual vs lesbian w/Clara Godwin-Suttie

(Content warning: mention of domestic/sexual violence, sex, HIV/AIDS) How are gay and bisexual coming-out processes similar? How do they differ? In this very first episode of the Minority Musings podcast, I got together with an old uni friend, Clara. As a bisexual person (Clara) and a lesbian (me), we compared our experiences with coming out, crushes and the stigma we have had to deal with. We discussed what schools could do to increase understanding and acceptance of young LGBT+ people, queer representation in the media, and at one point, went off on a tangent about whether you can smell if someone is ovulating. With a good-humoured yet frank approach to some traditionally taboo topics – and some input from Bouncer the cat – this is a podcast debut not to be missed!

Link: https://anchor.fm/grace-liu10/episodes/Accepting-your-sexuality—bisexual-vs-lesbian-wClara-Godwin-Suttie-e1eptdg

The medical vs social model of disability

The use of the words “disability” and “disabled”, and if and when they are appropriate, is still widely debated. Many typically-abled people see them as dirty words and a taboo subject. They prefer phrases like “differently abled” instead. Meanwhile, many people with disabilities see this as rather patronising, and are trying to reclaim the word “disabled” in order to shake off the stigma. They feel there is no shame in accepting their disability as part of their identity, and to shy away from it is to shy away from the realities they face.

For a long time, I was unsure of where I stood, as an autistic person with low support needs. I can manage basic adult life skills and have made it through mainstream education and work. Autism counts as a disability, yet for me, at least, many of my struggles have come from me simply being different to my peers and them not understanding my differences.

Then I learned about the medical model and social model of disability. The medical model of disability portrays a disabled person as being disabled by their physical or neurological differences. These differences are seen as defects that need to be treated or removed in order for the person to be accepted, or have a good quality of life. If the disability is a neurological one, the person is praised when they are able to suppress their natural traits and needs and appear neurotypical. When disabled people are seen through the medical model lens, they are often pitied and patronised.

The social model, on the other hand, portrays a disabled person as being disabled by a lack of understanding and accommodation by society. Their differences are only disabling when they are in the wrong environment. In order for the person to have a good quality of life, they need the right physical and social accommodations. When disabilities are viewed through the social model lens, they are seen as yet another natural variant in human diversity.

This sums up my experience. I am only disabled when in the wrong place or with the wrong people. When people explain things to me in a clear, step-by-step manner, I am not disabled. Nor when people understand that I listen better without eye contact. Nor when I don’t have to be in a busy, noisy place, or in a situation that requires physical co-ordination. Nor when I am interacting with fellow autistic people, or neurotypicals who understand me. Nor when I am allowed time to myself after sensory or social overload.

But according to the medical model, my natural abilities and traits are nothing more that a set of “symptoms” and “deficits” that need to be removed*. My natural tenacity – and any resistance I show when pressured to act more neurotypical – are seen as inflexibility. When I was a child, my unusual interests and ways of playing would have been seen as inappropriate. My tendency to say what I mean with no hidden expectations is seen as an inability to deal with other people not doing so. I am depicted as having poor social skills just because my social skills are different to neurotypicals’.

Basically, I am “differently abled”, and in a neurotypical world, that can be very disabling. To conclude, I thought I would paraphrase a quote** that I came across on Facebook recently: People think of autism as being a tear in the fabric that makes autistic people who we are. What they don’t understand is that autism is the fabric.

 

 

*I realise some autistic people with high support needs have co-occurring conditions that many people think should be treated. For my thoughts on that, please go here.

**unfortunately I can’t find the source.

 

To understand more about the autistic experience from the inside, please buy my book: Approaching Autistic Adulthood: The Road Less Travelled. Don’t forget to leave an Amazon review to boost the book’s online visibility!

My website: https://artistic-autistic.co.uk/

10 years of Grace and Katy

Those of you who have been following my blog since its early days may vaguely recall me writing about my friend Katy. Barely a year previously, she was put next to me on her first day at orchestra, and once we got talking to each other, plenty of banter ensued. We frequently knocked the sheet music flying without meaning to. We counted down the minutes until it was time for hot chocolate and biscuits. She never tired of teasing me about my many previous desk partners*, and claimed that it was she who put an end to my desk partner commitment issues. Overall, we had a good thing going.

It has been 10 years now, and I’d say our friendship has evolved considerably since our desk partner days. So, to mark our 10 year friend anniversary, I should probably give an up-to-date summary of us.

It was my mum’s idea that I should ask Katy if she would like to meet up outside of rehearsals. Despite my nagging social anxiety, I did and it paid off. It turned out we had (and still have) a lot in common. We are both mad cat people; many of our text conversations start with us exchanging cat photos. We’re not keen on big social events. We like cooking (and love eating even more). She is more than a match for me when it comes to random scientific facts, and went on to study Biology at university and do a PhD in Ecology. As someone who loves cats, food and infodumping, what more could I want from a friend?

When we both went to university in different cities, we didn’t see as much of each other. I wasn’t sure if we’d stay in touch, but when we met up during the holidays, nothing had changed. When I was feeling the strain of 3rd year group assessments, and Katy was having struggles of her own, we texted each other most weeks. I was lonely and recovering from a difficult friendship fallout, yet my friendship with Katy was deepening.

With this in mind, I wanted her to be the first friend I came out to. After months of rehearsing it in my head, I blurted it out to her over dinner. I falteringly poured out all my bottled-up feelings of shame and conflict surrounding my sexuality, barely noticing I had just crumbled my wafer to dust over my ice cream sundae. Katy, meanwhile, listened, thanked me for trusting her, told me how brave I was, and generally responded even more perfectly than I dared hope.

Since then, we have supported each other through cat deaths, work woes, a pandemic and many more issues life has thrown at us. More recently, I have been on holiday to her house in Durham, once in June and once the other week. We went on walks, including with Pippin the Siberian Forest Cat on his lead. We cooked, watched TV, ate out, went shopping, thrashed each other at Sussed and Exploding Kittens and even went to a cat café. We had heart-to-heart chats about crushes, family drama, embarrassing stories and general life experiences. Earlier this month, she asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, and so we stayed up late one night during my recent visit, planning her hen do.

To conclude, all this started when I was put with the new girl in an orchestra rehearsal. Who knew that 10 years later, she would be one of my most trusted friends?

A selfie with Pippin during my recent visit

 

Katy and Pippin

 

Summer selfie above a river

 

Walking Pippin in the woods last summer

 

About to watch The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in August 2019

 

 

*desk partner: someone you share a music stand with

Why we need LGBT education

The prospect of LGBT(+) education in schools is a well-debated controversy. Some people say we shouldn’t be exposing children to sexual things like this. Some claim to have nothing against people who are gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary etc., but go on to complain about us shoving our “lifestyle” in their faces. And some just think it’s unnecessary because all we should be doing is teaching people to be nice to each other regardless of difference.

When I was a teenager – from mid 2000s till early 2010s – sex education and adolescence themed resources acknowledged that LGBT people exist. They explained what it meant to be gay, bisexual or trans. They mentioned the importance of being accepting when LGBT people come out. Surely that was enough?

So why then are people pressing for more LGBT education?

The thing is, society still conditions young people to assume they are – and should be – straight and cisgender. And at school, they don’t teach you how to recognise and accept your sexuality or gender identity despite societal expectations. They don’t teach you how to come out. They don’t teach you how to deal with homophobia or transphobia. They don’t teach you how to find someone to date. As a lesbian myself, I still don’t know how to look for a relationship when most women are straight. If anyone has any answers, please fire away!

With more LGBT education, there would be fewer young LGBT people living in fear, shame and self-loathing because they are different. With it, LGBT kids would be less susceptible to mental illnesses and suicide. They would have more opportunities to talk about their feelings and experiences. They would be better equipped to navigate dating and make sensible choices. They might feel braver about coming out and overcoming systemic oppression. With proper understanding and acceptance, LGBT kids might feel less alone.

But what about the straight, cisgender young people who make up the majority? Why should it matter to them?

The answer is that all of the above would not be possible without straight cis people listening and learning. With more understanding and acceptance of different sexualities and gender identities, straight cis kids would be less likely to become homophobic and transphobic. They would know that LGBT people are not a threat to them and deserve the same respect and acceptance as anyone else. They would understand what many LGBT people have to go through and have the chance to learn how best to support them.

LGBT education is not all about sex. It is about helping young people to accept and embrace difference in themselves and others. For some people, it may seem like another example of the world becoming too “woke” and “PC”. But for others, it could save lives.

 

Website: https://artistic-autistic.co.uk/

Upcoming podcast: Minority Musings

You may have heard me say on social media that over the next few weeks, I will be starting my own podcast! It will be called Minority Musings, and it will focus on raising understanding of the sort of issues people in different minorities go through.

If you are in any racial minority, on the LGBT+ spectrum, have a disability or are in any other minority category, and have a story or topic that you would like to talk about on this podcast, then please message me via any of the below platforms:

Facebook: Unwritten Grace – autism and writing

Instagram: unwrittengraceblogs

Twitter: unwrittengracel

LinkedIn: Grace Liu

Note that I want to avoid things like inspiration porn, confirmation bias, etc., and that you are free to correct me about anything. My aim is to create a safe space to talk about issues that people need to understand better. If you have any questions, fire away!

“High/low functioning” labels, and why they don’t work

If you are well familiar with autism, you may have heard the phrase: “If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person”. In other words, no two autistic people are completely alike. While most of us do share certain traits that we are less likely to share with neurotypicals, the above phrase is accurate overall. We all have different interests and abilities. We all have different sensory needs and struggles. We don’t all communicate in the same way. Some of us speak, some sign, some use technology and some use any combination. Some of us are very expressive, others struggle to externalise our emotions. Overall, we’re a pretty diverse bunch.

You may have also heard the phrases “high functioning” and “low functioning”. These labels were coined to summarise how an autistic person comes across. People often say “high functioning” to mean “able to speak, live independently and mask as neurotypical”, and “low functioning” to mean “non-speaking and needing full time support due to co-occurring disabilities.” But more and more autistic people are turning away from “functioning” labels. Why? I’ll explore the main reasons below.

I’ll start with an uncomfortable truth: these labels were originally used to convey how useful any autistic person is to neurotypicals. “High functioning” people are seen as similar to neurotypicals and therefore useful to society. “Low functioning” people, on the other hand, are deemed too different to neurotypicals to be of any use at all.

On a similar note, people labelled “high functioning” often have their struggles dismissed. People only see them managing life skills and acting neurotypical, without seeing the very real sensory overload, masking, communication mismatch, burnout and so on. They are seen as too “weird” or “stupid” to be fully accepted, but not disabled enough to be accommodated. And people labelled “low functioning”, often have their abilities dismissed. People see how different they are to neurotypicals, or how much support they need, and assume they have no potential. Instead, they are seen as eternal children.

Also, being autistic isn’t as black and white as the “functioning” labels imply. Someone might be non-speaking and very talented in some areas, or fully speaking yet unable to live independently, or intelligent and sociable but prone to bad meltdowns. And most autistic people find that how well they function varies depending on their situation, or even their stage of life.

What are the alternatives? One is to say “low/high support needs”, which summarises how much support a person needs, rather than how they are perceived by society. While these labels may still seem black and white, there is no reason why the person has to use the same one at all times. Another alternative is to simply describe each individual’s needs and abilities as they are, without categorising them at all. That way, you are painting an accurate picture of that person while reducing the leeway for assumptions.

Which alternative do you think works best? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

 

To understand more about the autistic experience from the inside, please buy my book: Approaching Autistic Adulthood: The Road Less Travelled. Don’t forget to leave an Amazon review to boost the book’s online visibility!

My website: https://artistic-autistic.co.uk/