PTSD As Autistic

Content: This post mentions PTSD, trauma and anxiety but without any details.

 

I’m re-reading Melanie Yergeau’s Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind and one of the things that hits me hard is that I’m not wrong when I think that it’s very difficult to get help with anxiety and trauma from a psychologist when you’re autistic. It’s a while ago since I read this essay the last time and I’m not done with re-reading it but as far as I can remember, this isn’t something that Yergeau is literally writing. So what does Yergeau’s essay have to do with this thought?

I have (complex) PTSD and it affects me, some days more than others. I’m not trying to get any help for it and that’s partly because my neurological disease is so bad that it isn’t possible for me to go through therapy without making it even worse. The other reason for not even trying to get professional help is that I’ve been through therapy before and one of the things I’ve learned is that a lot of psychologists and therapists are misinformed about autism and therefore they don’t understand autistic people. No matter how great their intentions are, not understanding autism can lead to harm.

Just a few days ago I wrote about how therapy put me in a situation where the efforts to normalize me meant that I got even less understanding of myself and when I read Yergeau’s essay I get a part of the answer: According to a lot of allistic Autism Professionals, a mind like mine doesn’t exist. By constructing us as something else than humans, the idea that scientists and other autism professionals should pay attention to what autistic people communicate is erased. Why listen to us when we lack the ability to understand what real humans should understand? Obviously, this leads to a lot of misunderstanding of how autistic people are thinking, experiencing and interpreting the world. This misinformation means that among most psychologists and therapists, it’s not even theoretically possible to have a mind like mine. To think and process information like I do. Then they can’t help me.

I hope that what I just wrote isn’t true and that I at some point can find someone who can help me with my PTSD. But at the moment there isn’t any help for me and I’m trying to accept that in order to protect myself from being even more harmed.

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Open Letter To Autism Parents

This post includes mentioning of ABA, puzzle pieces and functioning lables

 

 

Dear Autism Parents,

We need to talk again. At least I want to talk to you.

Just like you, I’m a parent of an autistic kid. Yes, you probably prefer “child with autism”, but for once, let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on autistic minds, and what your neurotypical perspectives do to all autistic people around you.

I’m a parent of an autistic kid, and I’m autistic myself. This means that every time you express how angry or sad you are about what you think that autism is doing to you, you don’t only assign blame to your child, you also tell all autistic people of all ages around you that you blame people like us. That you blame the way we react to food and noisy environments, how we process information and how we express ourselves, for causing you discomfort and pain.

You are entitled to your feelings, and so am I, and therefore I will tell you how I feel about your behavior.

Just like you many of you, I sometimes seek out other parents of autistic children in an effort to give my kid the best life i could possibly imagine. I might try to work with you to advocate for more accessible schools and healthcare, because just like you, I don’t want my kid to get PTSD just from going to school. However, I’ve realized that I’m not welcome in your world. When you talk about how autism has destroyed your life, you make it very clear that you are blaming autistic people, instead of focusing on ableist structures. What’s even worse is that you center neurotypical, allistic and ableist views and make me feel ashamed for the way I communicate. I know that you are doing this because you are suffering from knowing that your kid is suffering, but I urge you to think of this: When you are promoting ableist ideas, you are making life worse for your kid and all autistic people. It doesn’t matter how great your intentions are – when you call the need for accessibility “special needs”, when you use functioning lables and when you spread puzzle pieces and refer to autistic people as “mysteries to solve” – you dehumanize us. Dehumanization feeds ableism. We will never have an accessible society that respects autistic people as long as we are dehumanized.

But you know what? There’s another option. You have an autistic child, but you don’t have to see autism as a disaster. It’s totally possible for you to direct you anger and grief to the ableism that’s making life hell for your kid. Because you know – autism isn’t a disaster, ableism is.

I know that it’s hard. Just like you I have been fed all those ableist ideas about autism from healthcare professionals. Just like you I was told that I have to put my kid through ABA, “otherwise he could never grow up”. I’ve had doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers telling me all those lies about how meltdowns are just a way to avoid demands, that my kid has to be taught not to stim and that putting in a lot of time on behavioral therapies is necessary if I want to give my kid any chance of ever having a good life. But the thing is, none of that is true. You have the option of looking beyond ableist ideas and start paying attention to what autistic people are trying to tell you.

If you decide to start paying attention to what autistic people are saying, you will learn that our lives have meanings. That we connect with each other, we have meaningful relationships and we are able to experience joy and happiness. You will also learn that we are harmed and hurt by an ableist world trying to normalize us, and that will probably not be a pleasant reading to you. When you read about all the violence and abuse we experience, remember that you can be a part of putting an end to it. By refusing the ableist ideas that a lot of healthcare professionals are promoting, and instead listening to autistic people to learn about autism, you can make a difference.

It’s your choice.

Sincerely

the uninspirational

 

I Just Want to Be Safe

Content: This post includes thoughts on safety, fear, threats and abuse related to ableism

 

I hope I’m just having a bad day. Like, I really, really hope that this will pass soon.

Because I’m falling.

In some aspects I’m safer now than I was before, and that’s great and totally terrifying. When I’m finally a little bit safer, the thought of going back is so scary that I almost wish the temporary safety away. Because I can’t go back.

But I will be unsafe again soon. One of the bigger threats is on its way back. There’s nothing I can do about it. In a month, it’s starting again.

I can’t. I can’t do this.

My mind is preoccupied with the idea of ever feeling safe. People think that my highest wish is to not be ill anymore but it isn’t. Because even if there’s a cure for ME one day, I could still be ill again. I will still be disabled. In an ableist world, that means being very unsafe.

I just want to feel safe. I just want to live a life without the constant threat of abuse.