Anatomy of an Autistic (IV/V)

Anatomy Of A Monster

And what none of us passers want to talk about is what our passing does to those who can’t. Passing is necessitated because without it, we would be stuck being a Scary Disabled Person and everybody knows how well their lives are allowed to go. There is a pervasive, fundamental belief that disabled people are monsters, or else possessed by monsters. That disability is monstrous, and disabled people, by implication are either victims or monsters ourselves. And therefore any and all talk of accessibility, universal design, human rights, equality, self-determination, alternative modes of communication, interdependence, what it means to be human and in a communication, what needs are and what it is to have them, etc etc etc goes out the window. Our bodies and lives and minds can be medicalized and politicized, but our voices are silenced and we get redefined as not quite, or not even close to, human.

Maybe it’s that view, of autism as monster and we as victims, which makes people recoil so much from the word, from the idea, from the concept of someone who will need 24/7 assistance and someone who won’t but has the same label. People don’t know how to treat victims, except by recoiling, as if bad luck is catching. People don’t know how to treat disabled people except as someone blend of horrific and pitiful, and by doing so we are dehumanized and re-conceived as something manageable and avoidable and yes, monstrous. Unhuman.

To be disabled is to be dehumanized. To pass is to be re-humanized as an acceptable, safe version of yourself that does not actually exist.

Well. Hi. My name is Julia, and I am autistic, and I am neither horrific nor pitiable nor monstrous, and if I am so what? And I pass. Mostly. For now.

That’s right. There’s a monster in your midst.

Julia Bascom blogs at Just Stimming.

Anatomy Of An Autistic appears here, in five parts, by permission.

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

on 12/29/11 in Autism, featured | 3 Comments | Read More

Comments (3)


  1. ictus75 says:

    Besides being labeled as “disabled,” we are also often labeled as “broken.” That one hurts me more than any of the others.

    Hi, I’m Michael, I’m Autistic, and I’m most certainly NOT broken. I’m fine the way I am, but I pass when I have to deal with the NT world. It’s a survival skill…

  2. Mark Stairwalt says:

    “You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

    Near as I can tell, the thread of re-postings here runs mosaicofminds>iamthethunder>issa rae>tatiana richards>junot diaz. Thanks too to Julia B.

  3. […] in generаl. Who can we believe? How cаn we construct а personal belief? Some of the various sex without love quotes opinions we heаr floating around arе: There was a tіme when there wаs a kind οf stigma […]

Leave a Reply