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The Connection Between Autism and Mental Health

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There are two things I’d like to say about a common misconception regarding autism and mental illness that’s been proliferating on social media for the past five years.

Firstly, autism in of itself is not a mental illness. Autistics can have mental illnesses such as depression and complex PTSD. Autistics can be diagnosed (or live undiagnosed) with panic disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.

The mental health and welfare of autistics is too often disregarded as “symptoms” of autism, which factors into the higher occurrence of suicide in the autistic population.

Secondly, autistic patients are some of the last considered for PTSD although the most popular “treatments” for autistic “behaviors” is ABA which has already been proven to cause it.

Autistics often experience trauma from an array of situations and circumstances in which we are dehumanized, physically and psychologically abused, marginalized in our extended families, relationships, communities, educational institutions, justice system and medical care.

While autism is not a mental illness, most autistics will need mental health support at some point in our life, or on a regular basis. Removing this stigma is the first step to improved care.

Originally published: January 14, 2019
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