What is it to pathologise a human being?
To describe or understand all of their behaviour, their emotions, their wants and needs, their very being as symptoms of disorder.
Many parents will ask questions such as:
"How do I keep my child calm and stop them from melting down?"
And often, at the centre of this question is a cesspit of presumption.
A child being upset is normal. Humans getting upset is normal. It's a functional behaviour.
Is the child 'really' melting down? Or are they having a completely rational response to consistently having their being analysed due to the pathologising of being autistic?
I even see autistic adults pathologising themselves.
"Oh, I lost it and laid on my bed and cried all afternoon about what's happening in the world today and it was so over the top"..
Yep. Autistics often have HUGE emotional responses to our environments (people, places and things), but is it really disproportionate to what's happening?
Or is it rational?
And is it even irrational when it's different to how others might respond?
Or is it a perfectly normal autistic response?
If you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice, right?
If you peel an apple, you get apple flesh.
This is the whole point of neurodiversity.
Understanding that whilst we may be different, there is no one, true, correct way to be in the world.
We are all diverse, as are our human expressions.
I know a little girl, a beautiful, autistic, non speaking girl whose Mother couldn't work out why she would leave her bed and sleep underneath the window on the floor each night.
Mum researched everything about autism and came to the conclusion that it was a lack of melatonin being created in her brain.
The books said to make her room as dark as possible, and so she did, believing it was going to help her daughter.
Morning after morning for about three months, Mum would go into her beautiful girl's room and discover her on the floor, by the window.
The little girl's parents bought a range of new beds, new mattresses, trialled the removal of foods that might have been upsetting her tummy, took her to the Paediatrician..
One night, Mum went in during the night and found her beautiful daughter holding the blinds open, looking at the stars and the moon and all of a sudden, it made sense.
The following night, Mum stopped creating such darkness and installed a night light.
The little darling had been afraid of the dark.
Just as any other child might be, but Mum had been encouraged to see her child through an *autism* lense only.
The *autism* lense put together by non autistic people.
This is my story. I am that Mum.
This is how easily parents and professionals get swept away into the minefield of pathology, and completely overlook the rationality of human behaviour.
Perhaps next time we see something in our autistic loved ones that we panic about, we can ask whether this is rational for them and whether we truly do need to do anything about it or let it run it's course?
(Image credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich)
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