A reader asked:
How do you feel about self-diagnosed autistics?
I think that autistic people are autistic whether or not that they have been diagnosed.
I think people often know that they are autistic without a doctor telling them that they are. I have absolutely zero problems with someone thinking that they are autistic or wanting help. Even if it turns out that they are mistaken and not actually autistic. That happens sometimes, but I don’t think that’s hurting anyone, and I don’t think it’s a legitimate reason to object to self-diagnosis.
I think that people with disabilities need support, coping methods, and accommodations whether or not they’re diagnosed with anything.
I think we should move towards a world in which accessibility is seen as routine and normal rather than something people have to beg for access to. As it stands now, support resources for people with disabilities are often drastically limited. That is not the fault of people who identify their problems and support needs without medical diagnosis. Resources are scarce because our culture doesn’t value people with disabilities enough to make support readily available, or to routinely make accessibility and inclusion part of planning in schools, organizations, architecture, workplaces, or anywhere else. That’s the problem. Self-diagnosers who want help are not the problem.
There’s this notion that people with disabilities who need to do things differently are somehow trying to get away with something, and that they need to pass an extremely high bar to prove that they can’t help it. That attitude hurts all of us. Hating people who self-diagnose plays into that attitude, and it doesn’t help anyone.