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That the advantage of being Self-DX, you have personal label but not one that strips you of your infrastructural status as an NT. The government, local, state and so forth, sees you as an “NT”. You don’t need, the county’s DD (developmental disability) services, BVR or Disability Medicaid or SSI. According to the government you’re normal.

This is a massive advantage to folks with a self-DX, they can live their lives carrying the autistic label and suffer none of the community backlash. This is why they tout being a “stealth aspie” this is why many discourage autists on getting a clinical DX. Keep the label, keep the privilege.

Bard, Prism*Song, on the privilege of the self-diagnosed.

And xe is absolutely right. Flying under the radar of state services, living without a label, means you can choose who knows, for the most part, although you still can’t stop that knowledge being transmitted without your consent.

However, there is a serious downside. Every exam you take, every assessment, every job interview you attend, you are being judged against NTs. Any difficulties, any abnormal behaviours you exhibit are inexcusable, because you have no excuse, or at least, you have one, but you can’t use it. You can’t access services, you can’t take time off to recover from a meltdown; whatever happens you simply suck it up and keep going.

Now this isn’t a long whinge about poor privileged me. I think there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides, and how they stack up depends on your individual circumstances. And yes, I would advise people to remain ‘stealth Aspies’, at least initially. Official recognition is an irreversible step, and the disadvantages should be explored along with the rest.

I don’t know whether kids on the spectrum are encouraged to suceed in the same way their NT peers are, or whether the constant conversation about differences encourages them to draw lines, to close doors, to confine their horizons. I worry that this is so for at least some of them. The adolescent years are vulnerable ones, and not all kids have the force of personality to overcome the well-meaning curtailment of their dreams.

For female autistics in particular this is often difficult. I’ve noticed we have more of a tendency to do as we’re told, following rules drummed into us at an early age. I certainly bowed to family pressure, ‘choosing’ a career that had been more-or-less decided for me. I simply didn’t know how to refuse, and I couldn’t endure the pressure each time I tried to step off the path that had been planned.

When you are a teenager with a documented disability, I expect the world is full of adults who know best for you, or think that do. And more dangerously, it’s probably full of people who have already decided what you should do, but convinced themselves that they are ‘helping you make the right decisions’, with right being defined solely by their own preconceived ideas. If you disappoint them, they are all *sadface*, because they only wanted what’s best for you, and they were only trying to help the poor disabled child.

Blech.

Safer to stay undercover, if you can, and make your own decisions. I’ve found in life that your own bad decisions are much easier to live with than bad decisions someone else made for you.

And if you’re a teen and you can’t do that, because someone has already outed you, or is about to, then get online and find an autistic mentor who gets what it’s like to be silenced because of being AS.

Why do you need a diagnosis? What areas of your life would be improved by having one? Not everyone has a supportive group of friends/colleagues who take such information in their stride. It can be used to bully, to deny or ostracise. It may highten your feelings of difference. Alternatively it may be necessary to help you stand your ground over important issues, to mobilise friends and family to help, to feel you have a rightful place in the community. Just as every autie is different, the pros and cons of acquiring an official diagnosis are different.

In summary, I don’t think autistics are necessarily privileged by not having a diagnosis; the privilege more likely stems from those who can avoid the label being the group most able to conceal their autism and ‘pass’. And the privilege of being able to pass is a whole other blog post.

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