A reader asked:
You know, I follow this blog because I think it’s cool and although I don’t really read your advice posts, I can see they’re very respectful and well thought out. That aside, I want to ask: how do you feel about labeling autism as a disability?
I feel very strongly that it is important to refer to autism as a disability. It’s not just a difference; it’s a particular kind of difference, and that kind of difference is called disability.
There are all kinds of things that most people take for granted that autistic people can’t do, or struggle with, or can only do intermittently. Autistic people face ableist discrimination in response to not being able to do those things, or being perceived as not being able to do those things.
We have all of that in common with people with any other kind of disability. Acknowledging that allows us to learn from and collaborate with one another. Denying that we’re disabled just isolates us.
I think that every single thing I’ve written about autism has been reblogged by someone with another kind of disability saying “I can relate to this too”. As a result, my writing has become increasingly cross-disability. We have a lot in common.
If we try to separate ourselves from other disabled people, we lose a lot. Overlapping disability communities have a lot in common, and a lot of built up tools for dealing with disability, dealing with discrimination, and supporting one another. If we admit that we’re disabled, we can be part of that. If we don’t, everything gets a lot harder.
Short version: I think that autism is a disability and that admitting that makes life a lot better for autistic people.