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One thing that really displeases me is when neurotypicals try to police autistic emotions. “Don’t get angry over that!” “Why are you getting so worked up over this?” “Calm down, you are overreacting!” I’ve had this said to me even when I was on the verge of a panic attack or a meltdown. That should be a clue to any knucklehead that yes, something is wrong, and needs to be corrected, but the message isn’t loud and clear to some, and they think I can turn my emotional responses to certain events, words, and stimuli on and off, like a machine.

It’s not just a matter of expecting me to magically turn off my emotional responses (Come on, even if you are not autistic, you know that counting to ten, taking deep breaths, or chanting Sutras is not enough sometimes) The fact that my emotions are deemed “not appropriate” for the situation makes it all the more infuriating. It may not seem like a legitimate response to a neurotypical, but an autistic perspective is going to take certain things a lot more seriously, and will more rapidly notice when something isn’t right in a situation related to disablism. It’s not always going to be pretty, and we’re not always going to be able to sum it up in tidy little speeches. That’s okay. It should just show how committed we are to this, and what it means for us, how profoundly we care about this topic. It’s not a matter of weakness, lack of manners, or being “emotionally incontinent” (Nice imagery there, eh?)

Emotional responses are as varied and deep-seated as anything else about our personalities: Autistic people like me possess the full range of emotions, and we express them differently and react differently than neurotypicals. There are some issues we are passionate about, which shake us to our core, impact us personally and deeply. For someone who will never understand that to say that our responses are inappropriate is a clear sign of how disabled people are frequently supplanted in conversations about their own communities and lives, in favour of a mentality more digestible for the non-disabled.

What have I learned from this? That it’s important to continually assert your right to be angry and emotional, and to get emotionally involved in topics you feel passionate about. I’ve also learned that the objectivity myth is deeply rooted into the minds and hearts of many who may mean well but whose own words and actions make them poor allies.

That’s my thought for the night.

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