How do autistic adults experience stigma?
According to the neurologist who examined me first, autistic people are unaware that they are being bullied, stigmatized and socially isolated.
Almost all presumptions he was taught in the 1970’s and 80’s about social experience for autistic people has proved to be wrong.
Today even science recognizes that we are aware of being stigmatized due to our autism.
We feel isolated, we feel lonely, we feel it when we understand we are being avoided, patronized, mocked, bullied, selected for persecution and unwanted aggression due to our differences.
A few weeks ago I accepted a friendship request on Facebook from a man who belonged to a special interest page that I am also a member of.
I looked at his posts and decided he was safe. OK, friend request accepted. Now we can share info, see each other’s posts, and interact with each other on our personal pages.
I have many online friends and enjoy the interactions immensely. Since I do not do well in “real time” interactions due to my slow visual and audio processing issues, facebook and other internet web pages really do work as my “social life”.
Hours later, he sent me a message asking me to ” unfriend him” . It seems that he had his facebook page only for close friends and family members. (untrue, I had seen his page and some of the other friends were also members of the same special interest group). Well, I can be grateful that he didn’t just “block” and “unfriend” me, I suppose. I think he saw my link on my personal page that shows my blog address “old lady with autism”. and it scared him off.
It is unlikely that my politics or my random comments offended him, I keep my political ideas to myself and don’t randomly rant about sensitive issues, I find all of that too upsetting and I don’t like to fight or to justify myself, I have said before, I am a lover, not a fighter. I do off and on post links to diagnosis of autism in adults but it is not even 10 percent of my normal content. I have drawn others specifically, I think because of my being open about being autistic.
Thinking about this experience, and also reading about how another neurodivergent friend was harassed and bullied and mocked because of her posts on another special interest page, I thought I might do a bit of research on how autistic folk are affected by stigma.
There were pages and pages of rants, commiseration, sympathy, empathy, discussion and suggestions for parents, siblings, caretakers of autistic children and one which also included caretakers of adult children.
There were studies and pages of blogs, support groups, “educational pages” planted to draw business for therapy groups and institutions, etc. all about how families and parents and partners and caretakers experience stigma over the autistic individual’s differences and stuggles…….
and, ( you know what I am going to say next) not ONE page about how autistic people experience stigma, not one study, only a few blogs by autistic folk like me.
Draw your own conclusions. I have no answers, but I can see a problem here…. can you?