CW: abuse.

Trauma is so, so common amongst autistic people that some of the negative traits / symptoms that are associated with autism probably aren't autism itself, but rather just the way trauma manifests for an autistic person.
For example, I used to have frequent meltdowns as a result of trauma. Since getting away from dangerous situations, I have far, far fewer meltdowns. In my opinion, they weren't signs of being autistic; they were signs of trauma. Trauma just manifests differently for us.
(Btw I'm not saying meltdowns can never be inherently part of being autistic, just that for me they're part of trauma and stress and I don't think those ones should be considered autistic traits, but rather trauma / stress expression.)
This is a real problem that I've been talking to other autistic people about for years. Signs of trauma being misinterpreted as signs of autism means not only that the person's trauma can get overlooked, but that autism gets blamed for what is actually trauma.
So many of the bad experiences I've had that get called "symptoms of autism" by doctors, autism organisations, etc, where almost certainly signs of trauma, not autism.

Like when I used to bang my head on walls? That was self-harm resulting from trauma, not from being autistic.
(Again, not assuming that stuff is linked to trauma for everyone, just talking about my own experiences.)

It really bothers me that my autistic brain gets blamed for things like meltdowns and self-harm, when in fact those things were signs of trauma that other people caused.
It angers me, because this trauma came largely from (probably) allistic people doing harm to me, yet my autistic brain gets the blame for it, gets treated as the problem causing things like meltdowns and self-harm. And, of course, makes it easier to pathologise my difference.
If I have the spoons, at some point I'll try to find some of the links I have to posts / discussions about how trauma symptoms get misinterpreted as symptoms of autism. A lot of folks have discussed this so there's definitely stuff out there.
Point is: if an autistic person seems to be in great distress, and especially if they're totally overwhelmed or self-harming, don't assume it's just "because of the autism". I'm not saying it never can be, but don't jump to painting them being autistic as the cause of their
distress. Such a vast number of us are abused, I'd say all of us are marginalised (though to greatly varying extents). And we all exist as a minority in a society not designed for us. Don't blame being autistic for us being in distress before considering all those things.
I'm tired of my autistic brain being blamed for how much I struggle, while the massive inequality me and my community face gets ignored. Shock of all shocks, being unceasingly marginalised actually makes me struggle a lot more than being autistic does.
People, especially in the medical field, need to get a lot better at recognising how trauma can affect autistic people and how we might express it, and not just blaming our trauma traits on us being autistic. And acknowledge how they sometimes cause our trauma.
When I have all of my needs met and am not under undue stress / trauma, I literally never have meltdowns. Not one. I don't self-harm. I don't have shutdowns (also usually the result of stress or sensory needs not being met).
I don't do perfectly at everything, but I get by ok.
It is ONLY when my needs aren't met and when I AM put under undue stress / trauma - which, let's face it, is pretty much all the time in this garbage society - that these problems happen.
Given that I'm autistic all the time, yet these problems only show up when my quality of
life is crappy and my needs aren't met, it seems pretty frickin' obvious that these problems aren't the result of me being autistic, but rather are the result of those unmet needs and that undue stress / trauma.
As far as I can tell, the only way me being autistic is related to
this stuff is that it affects how I process and express that stress / trauma. It isn't the cause of those problems; it's just the way I respond to them (voluntarily or involuntarily). It's good for me to work on responding in healthy ways, of course (though it's worth noting that
'healthy ways' and 'autistic ways' are not antonyms; I can respond to stress / trauma in ways that are distinctly autistic and healthy). But the root problem is what needs to be solved, and me being autistic isn't that problem.
Extreme distress is not, and should not be considered, an integral part of being autistic.
If an autistic person is distressed often, instead of assuming it's just because they're autistic, consider:
and the stress of living in an allistic world.
We are put under monumental amounts of pressure and stress every day, from a very young age. Every sensory environment is calibrated to others' preferences over our needs. Communication is done entirely by allistic standards. Ableism is in almost every situation in some form.
And yes, it seems many of us are abused.
All of those things can cause trauma, in different ways. So yes, most of us probably carry some kind of trauma with us, whether we're aware of it (all) or not.

So, in a way, it's no wonder that other people's perceptions of us often
mistake our expressions of trauma for autistic experiences. If almost all of us are distressed, I can kinda see why people might think distress is inherent to being autistic.

Except that people only assume that when they're ignoring inequality and the distress that causes.
@threadreaderapp unroll, please.

I'm struggling to express everything here and need to get food. Might be able to explain things more clearly later.
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