The Bitter Autistic Wish List

1. When someone tells you they’re autistic, just nod. A friendly smile is nice, if you can manage it.

2. If you have a personal positive experience with autism that can be expressed in a single sentence – go for it. “Oh, great – so’s my sister” works. So does, “Oh, hey – I just took a seminar in business communication and I learned a lot of cool stuff about neurodiversity.”

3. But please don’t congratulate yourself for an hour and a half because you know something, anything, about autism.

3. If you’re tempted to say, “But you don’t look autistic,” think again. Think a bunch of times. Think about something else. Anything else. Mostly, think about the fact that you really, really shouldn’t say that.

4. “I never would have guessed you’re autistic” is a catastrophically awful thing to say, because you’re making autism sound catastrophically awful.

5. Someone who comes out to you as autistic is telling you something important about themselves. This is the exact opposite of someone who’s looking for an argument. Especially an argument that boils down to you claiming to know more about them than they do.

6. Please don’t pick one thing you heard about autism and say, “But you don’t do THIS.” After all, you’re not the identical twin of the last neurotypical person I met.

7. And speaking of individuality: just FYI, we’re not all good at math.

8. Or science.

9. We’re not all preadolescent boys. (Novelists and screenplay writers, take note.)

10. If you want to learn more about autism, go online. Go to a library. Go watch a TED talk. Don’t ask me to recommend ten or twenty resources you might find helpful. In case you didn’t figure this out in school, you’re supposed to do your own homework.

11. I have hair. I have money. I have attitude. I don’t “have” autism.

12. I don’t “suffer” from autism. I suffer from neurotypicals saying hurtful stuff about autism.

13. I’m not looking to be cured any more than you are.

14. No, I don’t know Greta Thunberg.

15. No, I didn’t read that book by that autistic person you heard about that time.

16. Seriously – aren’t we the ones who are supposed to have awful social skills?

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