I’ve been thinking a lot about the neurodiversity movement lately. And it makes a lot of sense to me ….. people with autism want to be heard, respected, and accepted. Actually, all people want to be heard, respected, and accepted. So in that respect, as in so many others, people diagnosed with autism are no different than anyone else. And for many years, approaches to autism remediation were limited to programs that focused on changing behaviors and restricting any actions that were deemed “abnormal.” It seems like many neurodiverse adults have now found a voice and are using it to say it doesn’t feel good to be made to do certain things and made to stop doing other things without respect for who you are as a person.
This makes sense to me. We should accept people as they are. At the same time, this ideal of universal acceptance is coupled with the knowledge that studies show that people holding a diagnosis on the autism spectrum experience mood and anxiety disorders, including depression, at much higher rates than the general population. This would seem to indicate that there is a need for intervention to help these individuals become their happiest possible selves. And so it becomes requisite on the professional community to be mindful and diligent in seeking to offer opportunities for growth that balance acceptance and challenge in ways that feel genuine and that respect the personhood of each individual.
Culture of respect.