As an autistic you mostly get the “You don’t look autistic” or a pity facial expression as if you stepped on their largest toe or the “Oh, my so-and so is also autistic, I know how it is”. When a job agency calls and I mention my autism the call is over. No more follow up questions, the call is over.
Don’t get me wrong, there are other cases, but sadly they are rare. They are Sturgeon’s law rare. Only 5-10 percent of my interactions when I disclose I am autistic are one of the ones that should be the norm, ones that should be celebrated for now and should be common in future generations.
An example that happened today. I walked into a job agency and when applying for a possible application that would fit me, I disclosed that I was autistic. She didn’t blink, didn’t ask questions (actually only one: what my support needs are) and I talked about the things that were my solutions to some of my own things that I noticed and my strenghts as an autistic. Nothing more was said about the topic. When my other handicaps came up she didn’t ask about them. They were a matter of fact.
Another thing I notice is that people will only talk to me to confirm things. They will talk to my girlfriend the whole time and only address me to confirm things. Our latest debt-councelor isn’t like this, she talks to my girlfriend and me and addresses us both. I am mostly the silent part of our duo on these talks (although I can talk excessively much sometimes) but she accepts my inputs and doesn’t belittle me, but these are rare when I disclose my autism.
To be honest, when I go to the shop and just do my things I won’t disclose I am autistic unless I am talking to someone and I feel the need to tell it to show them that not all autistics are like that or just to say that I am autistic so they see another representation. It is a kind of subtle advocacy that I think is needed. Not all advocacy needs to be extroverted and in-your-face.
I feel that more advocacy is needed in this way so the positive exchanges regarding autism become the norm and not the exception. More and more like is happening with gay people (although they aren’t where they should be still after so many years of advocacy but it is becoming more and more accepted).