Why requiring Autistic people to be diagnosed is a betrayal of the Neurodiversity movement
It has long been accepted that diagnosis is a privilege that many are not afforded. What is not discussed is how diagnosis itself feeds into the pathology paradigm that has surrounded Autistic people since Autism was first conceptualised.
Requiring that a person be diagnosed Autistic is in and of itself a pathologisation of that neurocognitive-style.
One no longer expects a homosexual to be diagnosed with a disorder or condition, and yet we strive to be diagnosed as Autistic. While I recognise the privilege that having a diagnosis has given me, and I admit that my diagnostic paperwork saying “condition” instead of “disorder” filled me with joy; it has taken me some time to realise that my need to be diagnosed was in fact a perpetuation of medical models and pathologisation.
Being Autistic is an identity based on a specific neurology. It is not inherently good or bad. There is nothing to be fixed or cured, so why force people to acquire a diagnosis?
If a person largely identifies with the core experiences of being Autistic, then why should we deny them the right to identify as who they are? Should we not have accepted by now, in the 21st century, that neurodiversity is a natural phenomenon, and not a collection ailments requiring intervention.
Of course, a move away from diagnostic approaches would undermine what I would refer to as “the autism industrial complex” which largely consists of behavioural therapies and quack biomedical solutions, sold as the only way to separate your neurotypical child from the autism that has infected them.
Indeed, when one considers all the harm that the pathology paradigm has done, it seems to me that a world where being Autistic requires a medical diagnosis is not one designed in any way to accommodate Autistic people.
Should the neurodiversity movement wish to achieve its aims of acceptance and equitable treatment for all neurotypes, then we must strive to move away from all medicalisation of the natural diversity of minds. Until this is done, the neurodiversity movement can not succeed.
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