Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of variations on a story that goes “Autistic people love detail, and it makes them naturally well suited for repetitive jobs that most people find intolerably boring.”
This is usually said with great fanfare, and described as a step away from stigma and towards celebration.
But — autistic people don’t all have a convenient love of tedious tasks. Some of us find them as boring as everyone else does.
This model of “autistic strengths” celebrates us doing jobs everyone else hates. It has no room for us to pursue jobs that others want. We’re supposed to stay in a special place for special people, doing the boring tasks the ideology says we love — and making no trouble for the normal people who do the interesting jobs.
This isn’t ok, and it isn’t acceptance. Some of us like things that others don’t, but none of us should be forced into a box. Autistic people have the full range of interests, talents, and skills that anyone else does. We shouldn’t be tracked into jobs based on stereotypes. We have the right to decide for ourselves what to pursue.
Irrational people have the right to make choices.
Personal autonomy is not conditional on other people thinking that you are using it correctly.
That’s pretty much what makes it personal autonomy.
For instance, people have the right not to interact with dogs
- Even if the only reason they don’t want to is that they have a phobia
- Even if the phobia is completely irrational
- Even if they would be better off getting over the phobia and learning to like dogs
- None of this gives anyone the right to make them interact with the dog
- That’s their business and their choice
People have the right to decide what they eat
- Even if it’s for ridiculous reasons
- Even if they think it’s healthy and it isn’t
- Even if they are in the grip of food fads and think that avoiding the color blue will solve their health problems
- Even if they’re too religious for their own good
- Even if they’re picky
- Even if they’re fat
- Even if they’re thin
- Even if they’re being overly cautious about their allergies
- Even if they are completely, utterly wrong
- People have the right to make their own decisions about these things
People have the right to end relationships
- Even if they’re only doing it because of a fear of committment
- Even if the person they’re breaking up with has all kinds of reasons for thinking the relationship is a good idea
- Even if they’re going to regret it
- Even if it’s a stupid decision
- People have the right to make their own choices about who who spend time with and be close with
People have the right to choose how to spend their time
- Even if they are wasting it
- Even if they will regret wasting it
- Even if they have tons of potential and could be accomplishing so much more if they just applied themselves
- Even if they watch a lot of TV and have terrible taste in TV
- Even if they express dissatisfaction with the choices they are making
- People’s time is their own, and they have the right to choose how they spend it.
The right to make choices includes the right to make mistakes.