The duality of Autistic experience

We live in a world of false binary systems. It seems that everywhere you go, something is either one thing or another. The same can be said of the Autistic experience.

Many people are currently engaged in a long standing argument. Is autism a disability, facilitated by systemic trauma, or is autism a purely positive thing, with Autistic people living happy lives?

First of all, an incorrect assumption has been made in this argument. Disabled is not the opposite of happy. Being disabled is neither good nor bad, it simply is what it is. Disabled people can lead happy and fulfilling lives, they can also struggle immensely.

Yes, the system is designed and executed in such a way that systematically traumatises the disabled, but disability and happiness are not mutually exclusive.

This brings us to the second point. Like any other disability, autism is neither good nor bad. Not all autistic people are happy, in fact, many experience mental health problems as a result of the trauma they have experienced at the hands of the system. Assuming that autism is a gift, is not necessarily correct (depending on context).

This brings us to the title of this post. The duality of our experiences as Autistics is in our ability to accept our disability while striving for happiness. The acceptance of our disability so often allows our happiness.

Why can’t we accept that being autistic comes with good and bad? Telling the world that being Autistic is all sunshine and rainbows is not the answer to the medical model. We cannot depathologise by being in denial. Being Autistic can be hard.

This applies whether you are diagnosed, undiagnosed, or self-identified. The system that oppresses us affects us with or without proof of Autisticness. You don’t need a licence to be Autistic. You simply need to exist.

And so, let us move forward into a paradigm where we can reject the ableism that causes people to distance from the word “disabled” while remaining honest about our struggles. We are uniquely human, our neurotype is a mixed bag of experiences.

My name’s David, and I’m happy disabled.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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