ArtfullyAutistic
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ArtfullyAutistic

The explanation we need with how ableist and saneist language is ingrained within us, but the conversation we have to address in both Autistic and ND communities

Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

The little known form of both discrimination and bigotry aside from ableism that has existed for centuries

Autism and plenty of other natural neurotypes of neurodivergency have dealt with plenty of stigma (social, societal, systemic, etc.) for centuries…

Saneist behaviours are typically not sanctioned nor deemed as “acceptable” by federal companies, agencies, and/or in non-profit organisations, but they still exist in places (even in places behind closed mouths and doors).

Procknow’s (2017) academic journal entry on sanism explains how the medical model of disability indemnifies the so-called “normalcy” of citizens who are “sane” as contrasted with Neurodivergent, Plural, Autistic, and Mentally ill citizens who are demonised for not fitting into the standards of “sane-ness”, but I will rephrase Procknow’s (2017) words.

Medical standards, such as the worldwide Medical Model of Disability only guarantees the “safety” of the predominantly “sane” majority of citizens, whereas the “Neurodivergent” citizens are shoved into asylums where psychiatry restores “us” (or “them” from the perspective of the “sane” neurotypical and able-bodied/minded singlet) into a socially constructed state of “normalcy”, because the Social Model of Disability is the opposite of the Medical Model. The Social Model of Disability pertains to ascribing (or pinning) the blame to the social, cultural and economic environments Neurodivergent and “mad” people find themselves in. Those environments become limiting when matching with the current neurological template of what “normality” is, since the Social Paradigm of Disability is only created for physically Disabled individuals in mind (Procknow, 2017).

A/N: “indemnifies” is another word for “guarantees”

Neurodivergent, Plural, Autistic, and even mentally ill folks that don’t pass as the “good” kind of people perceived as “reasonably sane” are given less autonomy/agency, dignity and respect as they navigate psychiatric care.

The often disproven and contradictory concept of “good ones” is a smaller, but less understood and talked about reality pertaining to the dark side of mental health as it can typically occur in psychiatric settings, because the “good ones” are the ones that are “complicit” in fear of not being sent home and being punished, while also not winning because they’re harming themselves and the so-called “bad ones” in the end because that plays part into being complicit in societal ableism and saneism, more friendly, and “normal”, while the ones who are defiant, too loud or unruly, and too much are perceived as the “crazy” ones.

Here is a long video on the topics of Saneism, Madness, and Social justice if you are further interested in versing yourself with any additional information:

“Madness, Saneism, & Social Justice” by Brenda LeFrancois

Considering the usage of mental health-based language while keeping it in mind as we converse with others in our day to day language

When unpacking conversations pertaining to discussions of mental illness, there’s also caution towards quotation marks that disappear when read aloud (i.e., ‘individuals with “borderline personality disorder”’), which also is relevant with words from neurotypical-based mental health or social equity lexicon (i.e., “toxic”, “problematic”, “healthy/unhealthy”, “work on”, etc. [in which not only ND, Autistic, and Plural folks have internalised this, and hell, I, myself, am guilty for using some of the words there when I was a youngling who didn’t know any better]) that can be uncritically swallowed up by many progressive individuals (and hell, not every person likes those words either, but I don’t speak for everyone because I’m speaking about those words from my internal kneejerk reaction/discomfort to those words) and especially social equity, mental health, and leftist circles that are also rampant with saneism and ableism. They can sometimes become overused to the point where it’s frustrating, aggravating, chaining, and also where it feels constricting to even disagree with people who understandably, but uncritically (or in some cases, justifiably) like those terms for themselves, not for society. But another thing, we also uncritically use them in our day-to-day language because us humans are contradictory and inconsistent when it comes to saneist language like this:

“Being needy and wanting external reassurance? That’s completely problematic of you to even want external reassurance for your own healing and survival! Try to work on your own self-reassurance while you’re at it!” (can send a message that one must “bottle up” their insecurities and feelings, including to always be “self-reliant” and/or “strong” [that depends on the person and whether or not they are naturally self-reliant] and that is on detrimental positivity and the enforcement of optimist attitudes onto people who aren’t naturally optimistic)

“You hate yourself and aren’t at your best self the way I/society want(s) you to? work on loving yourself! That’s negative energy and completely unhealthy to not love yourself before loving someone else…” (can send a message that one must be socially “acceptable”, fully “healed”, or to translate to neurotypical mental health terminology, “healthy” before forming connections with others)

“You being obsessed with your partner is literally unhealthy and so is your partner obsessing over you, like can the both of you not be so crazy and find something healthy to do for once that doesn’t involve your relationship with them and that involves having normal interests outside your shared love for each other!” (can also reinforce society’s expectations of what “relationships” are supposed to “look like” from a neurotypical perspective instead of an intersectional one)

“Why are you so crazy? Are you against self-empowerment, self-growth and self-love that is socially acceptable/healthy to be in this society? If you are, then stay away from me you toxic freak!” (can demonise people who understandably can have kneejerk reactions or an understandable sense of discomfort or mistrust towards people who can use those concepts to patronise people for a supposed “lack” of their own comprehension of those concepts instead of understanding that there are a lot of global factors that contribute to the suffering of Neurodivergent, Chronically Ill, Plural Systems, Disabled and/or Autistic individuals of all intersectionalities while society expects them to fit into the neurotypical standard)

“That empowered person is literally insane for her crazy workout and self-care/love routine, and honestly, I wish that everyone followed her so that they can become their best selves too!” (can send another societal expectation to be “empowered” [isn’t always as good as actual liberation, but it can be genuinely good in some cases], to “love” themselves or else there’s something “wrong” with them, to have a productive self maintenance (another alternative to “self-care”) “routine”, which is another way to tie a person’s worth or existence to productivity)

A/N: I’m also contradictory and hypocritical when I use words like “toxic”, including internalising the words “work on”, and “healthy/unhealthy” each time I read posts and internet comments talking about anything that utilises language like this (from mental health to anything else, like fandoms or like eating habits, or any coping tethers that people are currently using right now, no matter if they have external resources that personally benefit them to feel safe and anchored), so I’m no better than anyone else nor am I some “saint”-like “role model”. Honestly, if anyone wants to use words like this for themselves, I am happy for you, and you’re good in my book, as long as you are a decent human being, you’re fine in my book.

People who have a hard time being “compliant”, “friendly”, and “relatable” (in the eyes of the “sane” in power as an ideal for them to fit into) are typically perceived as “difficult”, and this doesn’t just affect white/Eurocentric singlet individuals who are “mentally ill”, Neurodivergent, and/or Autistic, but it can also affect Plural Systems with Headmates/Alters of Colour, ND/Autistic Plural Systems with ND/Autistic headmates/alters, Black and/or Indigenous Plural Systems with Black/Indigenous headmates/alters, Plural Systems with headmates/alters who are women, including LGBTQIAP2S+/MOGAI Plural Systems with LGBTQIAP2S+/MOGAI headmates/alters and/or mentally ill Plural Systems with headmates/alters with mental health conditions since they are given zero respect and no autonomy/agency while navigating psychiatric care, since respectability politics, tone-policing and action-policing are a real thing, and ND, Plural, Autistic and ‘mentally ill’ folks aren’t immune to them, nor are they immune to also resorting to tone and action-policing either (saying this as a person and man who is also guilty of it at times). Clinicians and health professionals that disproportionately diagnose them with largely goes unnoticed due to the ableism and cultural insensitivity (in some cases of ND/Autistic, ‘mentally ill’, and/or Plural Systems who are BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour]) of professionals.

When we discuss who looks “mentally ill”, who presents as or is expected to be “functional”, who is “trustworthy” and who’s “not”, all of this language is placed in this way that it plays into existing stereotypes around class, ethnic backgrounds, gender (modalities, diverse/modal genders, etc.), neurotypes, and more. For example, women, even some trans, non-binary, and gender-modal/non-conforming individuals are perceived as “difficult” and end up being misdiagnosed as “borderline histrionic”, and all of this exclusive form of language is one reason why people in poverty and Individuals of Colour disproportionately wind up in systemic prisons while white individuals with class privilege wind up in hospitals (and that is on white privilege).

Bigotry can only be eradicated by actively fighting and overthrowing larger systems, not solely blaming and pointing accusing fingers on individuals who only play a small part of widespread bigotry, since describing bigotry as a mental illness keeps the focus on people with privileges that intersect with each other, rather than marginalised communities that suffer a lot under the disabling consequences from bigotry, and the most messed up side effects of labelling bigots as “psychotic”, “crazy”, or “insane” is the moment or time in which stating so gives an often disproven impression that people function under the influence of an invisible illness that can’t be “controlled”.

Keeping in mind about the sanist lexicon we internalise and how we can have conversations to ensure that we don’t harm ourselves and others while staying at an emotionally safe place

The void of saneism and the current “mental illness” lexicon continues to imply that the oppression ND/Autistic people are facing is commonplace that it doesn’t have its own label (which it actually does, but it’s not widely talked about in the mainstream media and especially in social equity and justice circles that should have more conversations instead of putting more than too much emphasis on the self because there’s more than enough concerns in this world that are harming and killing people), and attributing mass violence to ND, Autistic and mentally ill folks in an autonomous way is saneist since that falsely implies that they are the ones at “fault” for things that are out of their scope of management, which is parallel with Islamomisia and how some columnists and advocacy groups (as said earlier, and am now re-stating).

Conclusion

To end this off on a final note, it’s better to keep in mind about how we internalise ableist and saneist language from privileged, singlet, able-bodied/minded and neurotypical environments we are surrounded in along with the people we surround ourselves with (yes this is me using some New Age concepts to discredit the harm that sometimes happens, which is proof of my contradictory, hypocritical and ironic nature as a human being). Even though we might subconsciously absorb what’s posted online and on physical paper (along with what is said by others in real life and on the internet), it takes years to put in a conscious effort to unlearn ableist and saneist words from current mental health and social equity terminology because there are times where we can slip up out of moments of anger or when experiencing a bad day, but at the end of the day, it’s a human decency thing to replace ableist and saneist words with safer alternatives (i.e., ballistic, naive, foolish, mutualist (when talking about beneficial and safe relationships, and plus, this concept based on biology/nature is a good one to use for describing beneficial and safe relationships), etc.) when talking about someone unpleasant or the societal (and many more) factors that harm and exclude many Disabled individuals, Plural Systems, Chronically Ill individuals, mentally ill individuals, including ND/Autistic individuals, because the actual fight to an anarchist revolution and to actual liberation won’t happen and begin without us and without many Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, LGBTQ+/MOGAI and religious individuals of all intersectionalities that have done so much for society to get to where we all are today.

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This Publication is for all who are Autistic and for those of our kind. It is for the Neurodivergent, for those on the Spectrum of all Gender Identities, the LGBTQ*, and all others who are justifiably non-conformant to Society’s harmful marginalization and Ableist views of us.

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[They/He/Xe]|Autistic| This is a safe space for you to read in the comfort of your home! You can find my ko-fi at: https://ko-fi.com/ravenfridmar43791