Commentary on “Why requiring Autistic people to be diagnosed is a betrayal of the Neurodiversity movementWhy requiring Autistic people to be diagnosed is a betrayal of the Neurodiversity movement”

For this commentary to make sense, it may be worth reading my other recent articles on the liminal nature of the neurodiversity movement and the reality of Autopia. My recent articles have all come from my recent preoccupation with creating a utopian neurocosmopolitan society, and I have used my writing to try and imagine what such a world might look like for Autistics.

When I wrote the article that is the subject of this commentary, I was not intending to denounce diagnosis, at least not in the world we currently live in. What I was trying to do was highlight how forcing people through an ableist and bigoted diagnostic system in order to gain access to support, further pathologises the Autistic experience.

Like many supporters of the neurodiversity movement, I take offence to the medicalisation of my neurotype. I feel it is inherently wrong to treat autism as a pathology. I do not believe that any Autistic people require fixing or curing.

My reasons for this are complicated, but in a nutshell; I believe that our current society judges us on our ability to create financial value and drive up profits, when we can not fit into that requirement, society deems us as having deficits and views those deficits as reducing our value.

When we can not meet our cultures standards, we are forced into the medical system, to prove our neurotype in order to attain the support that we need to survive.

Not only are we a Autistics forced to do this, but our family and carers are required to jump through the metaphorical hoops, often with little to no support. They face institutional violence and parent/carer blame the whole way.

The article I wrote was me dreaming of a society where everyone is treated as equal, no one is considered “standard” or “typical”. Things like universal basic income exist, social care has been reformed. Autistic people are no longer treated as broken or defective. We are not forced to prove we need support because the support is freely available to whoever needs it.

It was utopian thinking, and never did I intend to make people feel as if they were doing the wrong thing, or that I believe diagnosis is bad on current society.

I hope that with this commentary, people can further understand where my line of thinking came from, and understand the point I was trying to make.

Diagnosis is necessary on our world at the moment, but can we not dream of a better world? Where all are equal and supported. Where no one has to feel broken.

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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