Yesterday I was asked by a friend if it was ever a good idea to ask someone if they were on the spectrum. I didn’t spend much time thinking out an answer, confirming it wasn’t, but I’ve spent a lot of time since thinking about why it’s not. In thinking about, I realized it sits in a unique place in our world.
I want to start by noting the friend was actually one of the most aware, knowledgeable NTs I’ve ever met on the subject. She bends over backwards to get it right. Which is why I’m glad she asked this.
Because as I thought about it I realized I hadn’t had this discussion in the community. I’ve never thought about should I or shouldn’t I ask this. I’ve never asked it of people I’ve suspected but I’ve never thought about why. So many things we do we don’t consider.
So why not? That is the question.
The very simple answer is autism defines personal. Some are like me and open. Some are more guarded. Some don’t discuss at all. And even the idea of autism is complicated. Some use functioning terms while others like me don’t. Each person’s approach is their own.
Asking about it also carries a stigma. It’s hard to ignore the uncomfortable way we’re presented. To be publicly autistic is to live in violation of social norms. Asking implies that we match up with the negative images of the media. It’s a very tricky thing.
I wish this wasn’t so. I really do. It’d be great for the disorder to be viewed like any other aspect of a person. But it’s not.
So for now, my advice is simple. You shouldn’t ask about sexuality or race. Put autism in the same place.