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Neurotypical People Need to Stop Gatekeeping Autism

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Gatekeeping: When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity. –Urban Dictionary

A good friend made this statement the other day: “My God, it’s like people are gatekeeping autism!”

I haven’t heard a more true statement in a long time. My friend said this after I told them about neurotypical people who have commented on autism articles, written by autistic people, stating that they don’t agree with the autistic person, so they will continue thinking/doing what they do, even if the autistic community member has voiced that they feel it is harmful.

For example, I wrote an article a few months ago about why functioning labels shouldn’t be used and why a lot of autistic people dislike them. I saw comments from some neurotypical people saying that they disagree with my article or point of view and will continue using functioning labels for their personal reasons.

If someone said to you, “I like to be called Ben even though my name is Benjamin,” would you call them Ben as they prefer or would you call them Benjamin because it suits you? Or would you gatekeep the name Ben for your benefit? Would you continue describing another person or group in a way that many in the group consider insulting and offensive? If not, why don’t autistic people deserve the same respect?

Has anyone else experienced this?

Getty image by Andrey Popov.

Originally published: January 27, 2021
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