Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Stereotypes are Unhelpful

When I was writing for Autistic Flash Blogs and the positive autism movement, I kept twitching at the phrase "autistic people are..."  It was almost like a miniature trigger for me.  I just couldn't get over how uncomfortable I was with that string of words.
And then I discovered that my discomfort was stemming from the implied stereotype.
I hate stereotypes.  I hate stereotypes about all people because, frankly, they confuse me.  They contain no useful information.  Basically, I wonder if the people who invented stereotypes just did it in order to mess with us.  Because seriously: I don't get the point.
I am autistic and I know a lot of autistics, and I'll admit that when we get together, it's obvious that we're more like one another than our neurotypical peers.  But not all autistics are the same.  I really want to stress that point.  We are all unique.  All people - autistic or neurotypical - are unique.
So the thing that irks me about the phrase "autistic people are..." is that it automatically assumes that all autistic people are the same.  Not all autistic people are the same.
So if I'm going to finish that sentence in a way that is fully accurate, I'd say that: autistic people are UNIQUE. 
Also, stereotypes are unhelpful.