My flatmate calls my autism a 'sob story'. I try to stand up against an ableist post on Facebook and an autistic man calls me 'entitled', and tells me that 'autism is only a disability if you let it be one', and I'm 'sickening' for 'making it more than it is'. My old teacher tells me that 'everyone feels on the edge of the group sometimes'. Nurses say, 'Your autism isn't as bad as some people's.' About a million people have said to me, 'Everyone's on the spectrum somewhere.'
Is it me? Am I just self-pitying and not strong enough? Or is it that no one understands?
A few autistic traits does not make someone autistic, and 'Everyone' is not on the spectrum.
I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding amongst NTs as to what the 'spectrum' is, and for that reason I prefer not to use it. The autistic spectrum refers to the myriad ways someone who is autistic may be affected (that is how I understand it anyway), and not to the fact there is a spectrum of humanity to which everyone fits and depending how severe the 'autistic traits' are, one is classed as autistic or not (which is how many NTs understand it).
To say such things as 'everyone' gets like that, and 'everyone' is on the autistic spectrum belittles autism. They are not autistic and cannot feel at all what it is like. And there is no magic switch that can be used to turn autism off and on at will.
Everyone is affected in a different way, but there are certain commonalities that are shared between autistic people. Such things as difficulty in social situations, disliking change, sensory overload, difficulty in communicating, unconventional body language, are common to autistic people. Added to that is the severe anxiety, depression, dyspraxia, dyslexia, adhd, bipolar, and other comorbid conditions and there can be severe problems in one's life.
To say that some autistic people are not affected as badly as others is very unhelpful. That is like saying someone without a foot is not as severely disabled as one without a leg. There are still needs that need addressing and trying to play one off against another does nothing to address the needs.
I can put on a fair act of being NT at times, but then I say something or do something which is either a cause of great laughter amongst others or which has others saying I shouldn't behave like that, or even has someone wanting me to seek help. (I do get help for my autism by the way in the form of a support worker from an autism charity at work).
But with many things, one cannot argue with a closed mind. Autism is not understood at all by the majority of NTs (I've lost count of the number of times someone has told me not to let it define me). There is a long, long way to go.