Emotional Labor is not bad
April 22, 2021 10:38 PM   Subscribe

She makes some good points, but I don't love the part where she says that "Stuff like the MetaFilter thread doesn’t mention this very much, because it’s written by allistic people." -- there were actually a number of autistic people participating in that thread and who were key drivers of the discussion. Lots of allistic people as well, but I object to the dismissal of massively important contributions in that thread that came from autistic members; it's not a conversation that would have happened without the autistic members of our community.

(I'm not going to cite to any person in particular, because they can cite to themselves if they want their contributions to that thread as autistic members highlighted, and I think that Ada Hoffman doesn't have any particular reason to know about the identities of MeFi community members. But I think it's kinda crappy that our autistic members' contributions are in practice being glossed over and erased by this piece, even if that's not intentional.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:49 PM on April 22 [100 favorites]

Props, then to the contributors to the Big Emotional Labour Thread for passing, I guess, and putting in the work to explain it in clear words,

I noticed that I had this blind spot conflating "everyone should do their share of emotional labour" that both overlooked autists and feelings work and also assumed that "everyone" was all the people who benefit from their status in the patriarchy making others fit around them. (I was at a conference high on my own rhetoric and crashed "you imagine what the invisible silicon circuits are doing -- Y U NO imagine what your colleagues are thinking and feeling?!?"* into "can I ask autists in the audience to do more to pass, when they're already carrying an unreasonable burden?")

There's another part to this, which is a kind of "recycle harder fix for climate change" -- because the people already engaged are in a state of preaching-to-the-choir, already on-board and not really the people who need to change radically. And a civilized society makes accommodation for people who need extra assistance, it doesn't tell an autistic person they need to change radically.

*: my guess at why is different rewards and a feedback loop for making computers work from the rewards and feedback for working with people.
posted by k3ninho at 12:24 AM on April 23

7Interesting post but what she sees as counting as emotional labor is far too broad.
She uses her definition which conflates “mental” and “emotional” (“Emotional labour is the mental and emotional work we do to maintain relationships with other people, whether that relationship is an intimate one, or simply coexisting with strangers in a public place.”) in other to make the dubious claim that “ We call [many different kinds of activity] emotional labour because we believe that they all are forms of mental work that are often not recognized as work”. In other words, any kind of mental activity , whether they are emotional or not, counts as work and if they are not often recognized as work, they count as emotional labour. (??????)
So she rhetorically enables herself to claim strangely that “ Mentally keeping track of what needs to be done around the house and paying attention to the house’s current state, so that you can notice chores that need to be done without needing to be reminded.” and “
Educating people about a topic (I am doing emotional labour by writing this post right now! 😀 )” count as emotional labour.

This kind of overly broad expansion of a useful concept unfortunately hollows it out.

But the key point that she affirms that emotional labor is not inherently bad and is often good is indeed a very vital one.
posted by Bwithh at 12:39 AM on April 23 [12 favorites]

This kind of overly broad expansion of a useful concept unfortunately hollows it out.

Kelsey Piper made that point well in this response to a Tumblr Ask a while back. She says that the term originally referred to jobs where you were expected to be cheerful or even flirtatious as part of the job (waiting on tables, say, or the classic barrista thing) and that the broadening to include almost every occurrence of "someone expects me to do something needing emotional intelligence" isn't helpful.

Reminds me a bit of how "gaslighting" now means "someone keeps lying to me" rather than "someone's deliberately trying to make me think I'm losing my mind".
posted by pw201 at 2:26 AM on April 23 [41 favorites]

you imagine what the invisible silicon circuits are doing -- Y U NO imagine what your colleagues are thinking and feeling

when something goes wrong with the invisible silicon circuits they tell you exactly what happened with a numeric code you can reference in a manual; neurotypical people famously do not come with documentation

for reasons unrelated to this article I was thinking earlier today about situations where my NT friends, I can only assume, were trying to socially correct me for months using disapproving facial expressions & passive-aggressive comments & Charging the Air Around Us With Grave Vibrations

I did not pick up on any of these because like you waggle your eyebrows around all the time, Brenda, how am I supposed to know what each waggle means

by the time they got around to using their words it was months later & presented as a serious intervention over a micro-violence that I was committing at them, which they told me they talked about whenever I was not around

over shit like "hey you chew with your mouth open & we find it gross"

this is a pretty devastating way to receive this information if you were ostracized as a kid before learning how to mask well enough, but I can imagine being frustrated as a neurotypical if it seems like someone's willfully being obtuse

(side note: I went to the store last week & people responded weirdly & badly to me so I think I may have unlearned how to mask while being locked up for a year? so that's fun; I was so good at it)
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:31 AM on April 23 [33 favorites]

neurotypical people famously do not come with documentation

Dr Camilla Pang's Explaining Humans. The chapter on using Bayes' theorem to navigate relationships is particularly good.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 4:25 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]

Dr Camilla Pang's Explaining Humans.
thank you, ordered a copy!
posted by taquito sunrise at 4:30 AM on April 23

Taquito, anecdotally I've heard other autistic people mention that they've forgotten how to mask, or have realised how much masking they used to do pre-pandemic and how exhausting it is.
posted by Braeburn at 5:19 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]

One thing I liked about this piece is this through line: "sometimes things are hard for you because of your disability, but you still have to do them if you want to participate in society." This is an awkward line to walk compassionately, and I appreciate the effort here.

This come to Jesus moment in Everything's Gonna Be Okay is maybe relevant. In this clip, a big brother/parent figure explains to both his younger sisters that if they want relationships with other people, they need to think about the needs of those other people. I liked this moment because of the way he treats his autistic sister and his NT sister as equally in-need of education on this point.
posted by eirias at 5:19 AM on April 23 [14 favorites]

She says that the term originally referred to jobs where you were expected to be cheerful or even flirtatious as part of the job (waiting on tables, say, or the classic barrista thing ) and that the broadening to include almost every occurrence of "someone expects me to do something needing emotional intelligence" isn't helpful.

The classic Metafilter thread did broaden the definition, but in a way I think was very helpful: emotional labor is the relationship-preserving work that is often coerced from people with less power, in the service of people with more power, without the more powerful people acknowledging that it is even happening. Not all relationship-preserving work is coerced across power lines, but the fact that it often is and often is unacknowledged is what's interesting about it.

That's why the barista example is so effective: on one side of the counter someone with less power, on the other side someone with more. One side is compelled to perform an emotional script, the other emotes however they want. One side sees the relationship as transactional, coercive, tiring, the other side sees it as mutual, voluntary, reinvigorating.

The Metafilter thread takes that example and uses it as a synechdoche (I think?) for the larger phenomenon that when a relationship crosses power lines (particularly gender lines in that thread but also of course around race, nationality, ability, and so on), the person with less power often ends up coerced into doing a big pile of unacknowledged work simply to preserve what feels, to the person with more power, like a mutually rewarding and voluntary arrangement.

So yeah, not all "Educating people about a topic" is emotional labor in this sense, but educating people about the power relationships they're embedded in definitely can be.

The neat angle this article added for me was to connect emotional labor to intersectionality. If emotional labor is interesting because of power hierarchies, then most situations are going to involve more than one hierarchy -- like the example in the article of an autistic man and a neurotypical woman. And of course the answer isn't going to be that those cancel out, but that they both need to be honored, and how we honor them is going to be complicated and specific and human. I don't think this article had all the answers on that but I appreciated it putting the connection together for me.
posted by john hadron collider at 5:55 AM on April 23 [37 favorites]

the broadening to include almost every occurrence of "someone expects me to do something needing emotional intelligence"

It's worse than that. The way I see it often used online these days (or at least on Twitter) is basically "anything I don't like to do" and is opposed to "self care", which now means "anything I do like to do".
posted by star gentle uterus at 6:42 AM on April 23 [15 favorites]

Mentally keeping track of what needs to be done around the house and paying attention to the house’s current state, so that you can notice chores that need to be done without needing to be reminded...

The original use of the term in a household context referred to a pretty narrow band of household work and I do think it's still valuable there -- the writing of holiday and condolence cards, the maintenance of someone else's social calendar, planning special birthdays and smoothing things over with neighbors and all that stuff that makes a home life emotionally fulfilling (but for whom precisely?), and which disproportionately falls on women in hetero relationships.

Personally, I do think this falls under the narrower more precise definition; the power imbalance is still real, and while this labor often isn't acknowledged when it's done, people (again, disproportionately women) are DEFINITELY punished when they don't do it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:23 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]

No comment I could make here would be anywhere near as excellent as brook horse's excellent sidebarred comment in a previous thread in which she/they begin:
we are simply trying to communicate in the certain knowledge that if communication breaks down, almost all observers will simply blame us for incompetence

This is the crux of it, really, and where the ableism comes in. It's not just that if I don't do this, communication will break down. It's that communication will break down and everyone will insist it is my fault. If we are having a conversation, and the neurotypical person misunderstands because they ascribe to me attitudes and moods that they have incorrectly drawn from my expression and body language, I am blamed.

I mask to be understood, but I do so with the added duress of knowing that if I fail, I am wrong for failing to fit neurotypical expectations. No one says the neurotypical was at fault for making incorrect assumptions about me. So I change my behavior to something that neurotypical people can easily understand. Smile with your cheeks, tilt your head there, pitch your voice here, look at the eyes now, stop swaying, nod, look away now, gesture here. I put in the work to make sure neurotypicals understand what I mean.

The thing is, they almost never extend the same courtesy to me. Neurotypical people do not adjust their behavior to make it easier for me to understand them. And if I fail to understand them because the way they communicated was confusing--whelp, it's my fault again. It's always my fault. It's always my fault. It's always my fault.


So, like... neurotypicals could learn, the way autistic people learn. And lest you think this is something supremely difficult that takes years of autism training: my clinic just launched parent coaching that's basically all the stuff I just described, changing how you communicate with your kid in order to make social interaction more positive for them. I've seen vast improvements in social connection between parents and kids in as little as three one hour sessions. It's actually not that hard. Certainly not compared to learning the extensive, subtle, complicated rules of neurotypical interaction.

But neurotypicals rarely want to put any effort into changing how they communicate. It's always autistic people. And it's always autistic people's fault if the communication goes wrong. I wouldn't mind if it were one or the other--you can either blame me when it goes wrong WHILE actually trying to communicate in a way I understand, OR not put in that effort but be understanding when I fuck up because you aren't making any sense to me. But neurotypicals want it both ways, because that's easier for them, and autistic people "should" be the one doing all the work, because there's something "wrong" with us.
posted by heatherlogan at 7:46 AM on April 23 [45 favorites]

A subject that never goes away. Just the other day in the NYT parenting column: Why Women Do the Household Worrying (And how to get men to do more of it)
posted by Melismata at 8:19 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

LOL heatherlogan, I was just sitting here trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words, and apparently I already did it on a higher-spoons day. Go me. :)

I might come back later and add some examples of what my emotional labor looks like different from neurotypicals, and the emotional labor neurotypicals could do for me. But yeah. I am doing so much emotional labor all the time and yet constantly treated as if I am not, and it's frankly exhausting.
posted by brook horse at 8:23 AM on April 23 [29 favorites]

Educating people about a topic (I am doing emotional labour by writing this post right now! 😀 )

Maybe the term emotional labor has indeed been the victim of semantic drift on tumblr and elsewhere, and I just haven't seen it (I have seen the semantic drift of "gaslighting" that pw201 notes above and it really bothers me), but I think this also may just be a misunderstanding of how/why/when the term is applied. They way I've seen emotional labor applied to "explaining things", it's been used in the context of minorities having to explain basic "-ism 101" concepts to the majority crowd, like having to explain the concept of microaggressions to an oblivious white person for the umpteenth millionth time. In that context, the person doing the explaining has to maintain a polite, friendly, non-aggressive tone or else the person they're trying to explain it to will get all fragile and feel "attacked" and the whole thing will go nowhere. The "emotional labor" part comes not from doing the explaining, but from having to be perfectly, assiduously polite and non-aggressive in a situation where you're likely to be feeling anything BUT polite. Which is not really much of a drift at all from the original concept as presented in the tumblr ask response; it's still an emotional performance that you're not really feeling but you have to do because the people with more social power than you in that context demand it.

So yeah. Explaining things is not emotional labor. Pretending to be happy to be explaining things when you'd actually rather be chewing somebody out for being an asshole, that is emotional labor.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:00 AM on April 23 [30 favorites]

So yeah. Explaining things is not emotional labor. Pretending to be happy to be explaining things when you'd actually rather be chewing somebody out for being an asshole, that is emotional labor.

I’ve said on Metafilter more than once that I’ll happily do trans 101 until the cows come home and that’s true, and, at the same time, that falls clearly in the “emotional labor” category for me. It’s definitely labor and it exacts a different toll on me than most other forms of labor I perform that I can think of right now. Now I suppose “you’d rather be chewing them out for being an asshole” could be read less literally as something like “in an ideal world, you wouldn’t be doing this thing because you don’t trust others to do it”. I don’t want cis people speaking for me and I’m volunteering myself to shoulder some of the load for the other trans people.
posted by hoyland at 10:22 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]

I think what may be contributing to the impression of semantic drift is the inherent subjectivity of terms like gaslighting and emotional labor, in that they express of a sense of discomfort or burden. I feel it's a bit like the statement "I feel cold". Different people say "I feel cold" in wildly differing circumstances, but is that really semantic drift?
posted by dmh at 10:33 AM on April 23

I wish we could talk about the specific intersection of autism and emotional labor, instead of just repeating the argument about what counts as emotional labor for the umpteenth time. Thank you to those that are doing so.
posted by duien at 10:39 AM on April 23 [20 favorites]

Ha, since when has anyone had a conversation about autism when there could be a conversation about nt/allistic feelings instead? Outside of strictly autistic circles, I mean.

Not that another round of "internet hot take/clout machines took a useful term and made it useless" isn't good wholesome fun, but the actual article is the author pointing out, with perhaps too much gentleness, that conversations about emotional labor don't take disability into account.

This is a thing I've noticed myself. We autistic types work very hard to make sure you nt/allistics understand us, and feel good about understanding us, feel unthreatened by our presence, unchallenged by our views, that we are nice and good and perhaps at worse a little eccentric. Our prize for all this is that we get to continue to exist! Yaaaay! Hooray! We can get through our day with a minimum of terror and pain! How terribly generous of you!

If this experience sounds painfully familiar to some allistic/nt folk, that would be the intersectionality talking. Follow its voice. It will lead you to wisdom.

NT/allistic people demand serious labor from autistic people, and they demand it because, as the group with the power, they get the decide what "normal" is - and "normal" is always defined in a way that benefits the powerful group/in-group. What an allistic/nt person thinks is just a regular and easy form of consideration and care may be a thing that requires tremendous energy and focus to an autistic person. The autistic person is probably capable of offering other forms of consideration and care, but the allistic/nt person never wants to hear it. This is because among human social groups, who gives or receives care is linked to the pecking order in a very real and frankly evil way. Care and consideration flows from the powerless to the powerful, because otherwise the powerful will make your life exceedingly miserable.

It would be nice if, in this thread, we could spend some time sitting with the ways in which we have contributed to this problem - for example, who among us has not assumed someone's situation and found out later that we were dreadfully wrong, and hurt them as a result? I mean things as simple as "oh, they were curt with me because their parent was in the hospital." It's all part of the same complex, you know?

Humans are a great mystery to each other, and often to ourselves. If we sat with that mystery, and grew comfortable with it, perhaps we'd spend less time torturing each other for nonconformity and mismatched expectations and more time doing useful things, like saving the planet.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 11:59 AM on April 23 [31 favorites]

Autistic researcher Dr. Damian Milton of the University of Kent calls it "the double empathy problem". In short, it's not that autistic people are worse at communicating than allistic people, we just do it differently. But because the world is set up by and for allistic people, it's the autistics who get judged negatively and found at fault.

Another article: Revealing the Double Empathy Problem

Dr. Milton's article on the subject: On the ontological status of autism: the ‘double empathy problem’
posted by Lexica at 1:07 PM on April 23 [17 favorites]

so I've worked a lot of retail/customer service jobs, which is where I leveled up the masking skill (it's a lot like a training montage in a kung fu movie except the waterfall you sit under is made out of allistic people expecting a correct social response to the thing they just said)

and if we're defining "emotional labor" strictly in retail terms, if it means:
1) one person is expected to use mental energy to control their emotional output & social response
2) the other person has the privilege to not control theirs, if they so choose
3) there is an innate power disparity which makes it dangerous for the first person if they don't perform correctly

this is also the situation any time an autistic person interacts socially with an allistic person unless they are A) using their mental energy to make us more comfortable, and B) choosing to forgo the typical social ramifications of a Non-Allistically-Correct Response*

which is... I am not gonna say no allistic person has ever consciously done both of those things, but normally they don't.

which, I get it. it's a non-trivial amount of mental labor, they've never experienced consequences for not doing it, it might not even be on their radar as a thing they could do, etc.

but yeah both situations feel pretty much the same to me internally except that working retail it's at least recognized that you're on the clock & you do at least get paid
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:44 PM on April 23 [16 favorites]

I read this article last night, got to this point:
We grow up being told awful, abusive things about what we NEED TO DO in order to be ACCEPTABLE and RESPECT PEOPLE.
...was thunderstruck, broke down crying, tried to wash myself up, then just broke down crying again. There's a reason I carry so much blame for myself and doubt the basic goodness of my most core, spontaneous instincts, and it's not my fault. I've tried so, so hard to be "considerate" to people in the form that they expected of me, crushed under the dread that I could never be good enough at it and that therefore I was irredeemably selfish. I'm just different. There's not anything good or bad about it. It just is.

Truly, thank you for making this post, aniola.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 2:43 PM on April 23 [22 favorites]

J.K. Seazer, I'm so glad you had the moment of realization. The things they tell us about ourselves are just - unkind.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 3:15 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]

What an allistic/nt person thinks is just a regular and easy form of consideration and care may be a thing that requires tremendous energy and focus to an autistic person. The autistic person is probably capable of offering other forms of consideration and care, but the allistic/nt person never wants to hear it.

Allistics truly do not get that they literally have a built-in advantage to autistic people in certain forms of consideration, and they treat this advantage as if it makes them morally superior people, more caring and sensitive and good.

My brain does not attend to social signals. Allistics have some internal instinct that makes them look people in the face, follow gaze, look at someone when they enter the room, etc. I don't. There's a stereotype that autistic people treat others like objects, but that's not really what's going on--it's just that my brain doesn't pick social signals out of the mess of other sensory information going on (whether this is because my brain is not inherently motivated to attend to social signals or because I am simply too overwhelmed by everything else to prioritize it, the research has yet to determine). So yes, when I am not focused on interacting with a person, I "react" to them like an object--they become part of the background, and I don't notice any changes in their expression or behavior because my brain doesn't attend when someone makes a social signal unless they do the explicit work of capturing my attention first.

Allistics automatically pick up information that my brain simply does not process and then take credit for it as if it's a reflection of character. Bullshit. You all take the easy way. Your brain automatically tells you if someone is sad, mad, tired, scared. Sure, whatever you do with that information is a choice and that does reflect your kindness. But for autistics, just getting to the point of having that choice is work.

ABA and other therapies for autism teach me that I should conduct this work--this emotion labor--by looking people in the eye, memorizing body language, focusing on how tone changes meaning, etc. It does not matter that this is hard, exhausting work, which I routinely get wrong and am then blamed for being over-sensitive (I thought that tone and expression meant that you were angry, how was I supposed to know it was a joke?). This will help me understand how people will feeling and so I must do it.

Luckily, I was not subjected to ABA. So you know how I figure out how people are feeling? I just... ask them. Regularly, throughout the day. I probably ask my partner, "How are you?" (or often in the messaging app we use sometimes even when we're in the same room because it's easier than speaking: "how u") 6-7 times a day. I've built up the understanding with my friends and family that when I ask, I am not just making polite social noises, I genuinely want to know. So they tell me. If they don't want to tell me, they certainly wouldn't want me nosing it out from their expressions, either. It is literally that fucking simple. But if I ask an allistic outside my social circle, they'll tell me, "Oh, I'm good!" and then get hurt or mad when I don't pick up from their tone or expression that actually they are not.

Conversely, when they ask me how I'm doing, I give them an honest answer, which confuses them and makes them uncomfortable. Of course, if I said, "I'm fine," they wouldn't be able to pick up the truth from my expressions, because I don't naturally show it. Unless I am actively trying to telegraph my emotions, you will not know that I am sad until I burst into tears. Allistics are terrible at reading me, but oops, that's my fault too! But they don't extend me the same courtesy I extend them, and they don't appreciate the courtesy anyway--not the way I show it. I must pick up their emotions in secret code or it doesn't count, and why are you asking me such intrusive questions, why can't you figure out the answer without me having to say it? Show me you care, but only in the way that I demand. Of course, I won't do the same for you. You're not a real person, or if you are, it's your fault for being so confusing.
posted by brook horse at 4:50 PM on April 23 [20 favorites]

Motor control failed and I hit some buttons and accidentally posted before I was finished, so to continue:

I am almost always engaging in emotional labor with allistics. Unless they are very close to me and understand the ways I give consideration, I must pantomime the ways that allistics give consideration. I am always forced to express myself in the same way that they do or it does not count--my social communication skills are deficit, I lack empathy, I do not understand that others have minds. On top of that, I must suppress my stimming to make them comfortable, I must put myself in situations that overwhelm me because they "like the ambience," I must avoid talking about the things I am most passionate about because I will not be able to tell when you are bored and you will refuse to tell me, I must sit prim and proper in clothes that make me want to cry, etc. etc. etc.

And even with all of this. And even with all of this. And even with all of this.

There's always something off about me. Always some small thing that makes them realize, "Oh. She's not one of us." I have been through social skills training five times. Sorry, let me be specific: I have been the group leader for a manualized social skills training five times. I should be an absolute expert at this point, right? Well, it's sure made me aware of a ton of "social errors" that I've been making my whole life. Trouble is, even after years of being aware and trying to correct that, I've still made hardly any friends because I always slip up. They always see through and realize I'm not someone they want to be friends with. So what's the fucking point of doing all this work when the slightest error will invalidate all of it? Allistics told me that if I did the work, they would finally see me as human.

Reader, that was always a lie.
posted by brook horse at 5:05 PM on April 23 [21 favorites]

I dunno, man. When I started to understand that certain things in my family history might be explained by autism, I called up an autistic friend on the telephone to talk through what that would mean. And in talking to them in this medium for the first time (normally we are just pen pals), I realized from the general flow of the conversation that a) this is someone who probably tends to talk over people when they aren’t thinking about it and also b) this is someone who knows this about themself and makes a point to stop and say, “No, you go ahead.” I gained so much respect for this person when I noticed this! — if conversation had been smooth I would have thought nothing of it, but the work was care made visible, as it were.

I don’t want to deny anyone’s experience here. People can definitely be rotten about difference. But I like it when I can see the bones of caring. Even when it’s awkward.
posted by eirias at 6:54 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]

It doesn’t mean anyone is evil – and it doesn’t mean anyone is undeserving.

Reminds me of the autism expert that wrote a book about evil and included autistic people as at least partially "evil". The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

Quote from Goodread's section on the book: Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger's: All of these syndromes have one thing in common--lack of empathy.

posted by RuvaBlue at 8:49 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]

oh yeah, that's the same piece of aristocratic shit that theorized autism as "extreme male brain," helping to erase an entire generation of women and afab folks with autism who then never got diagnosed and instead just got a lifetime of trauma instead

he is at least creative as a piece of shit, I'll give him that
posted by schadenfrau at 3:07 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]

Serendipitously, this was recently recommended to me: From Self-Diagnosis to Self-Realization: Autistic people own the right to define who we are.
posted by Lexica at 5:01 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]

I keep wanting to intentionally confuse Simon Baron-Cohen with Sasha Baron-Cohen (I think they are cousins?) but I have not been able to come up with a good quip. Something something Rudy Giuliani with his hand down his pants.
posted by heatherlogan at 5:31 PM on April 24

"Kazakhstan's 4th best autism researcher."
posted by heatherlogan at 7:58 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]

My daughter's masking skills have definitely weakened during the last 14 months. She'll start back in the fall at a new STEM school. I'm hopeful her fellow birds-of-a-feather will all work together.

Thank goodness for twice weekly online D&D to keep her plugged in. <3
posted by heathrowga at 12:53 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]

I'm late to this thread, but what the author was picking up on with the comment "Stuff like the MetaFilter thread doesn’t mention this very much, because it’s written by allistic people" is still pretty important even if the statement itself is not true.

Most autistic people grew up in and live in a world where allistic people are the majority and so they can absolutely perpetuate ableist ideas and perspectives they have internalized without realizing it. And I suspect that was even more the case in 2015 when the thread took place--self-acceptance and self-advocacy for autistic people is, relatively speaking, still a new and evolving thing. I understand that it might be upsetting for autistic people who participated in that thread to feel unseen, but I'm really wary of letting "no actually there were lots of autistic people contributing" take space away from important criticisms (that might well benefit those same people.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:27 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]

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