As disabled people, we learn early that it’s our job to protect abled people from ever having to notice either the logistical problems or the hate we face. And especially, we learn not to show that it hurts us. And double especially, we learn that we are not allowed to tell friends or caregivers…
Something that helps with unlearning it? Stop trying to look normal. Figure out what are your sensory sensitivities, for example (or any other needs, but I started at sensory), what would help. Does that make you look abnormal? Use it anyways. Don’t do anything other than use it. If someone asks, tell them why.
Don’t purposefully stim, or purposefully avoid stimming, but if there’s a way you can keep track of it, the more you just say, I am just actively saying I’m not looking normal, I’m doing what I need, you’ll probably start stimming more in public. Or maybe your stims will change. And people might ask. Or they might start stimming alongside you.
Don’t be afraid of needing some things sometimes and not at other times. That’s one of the hardest parts for me, is getting through the part where you don’t always need the same thing. It’s okay to use a cane sometimes, if you need a cane sometimes, and that doesn’t mean that you’re faking because you only need it sometimes. Using it those times where it makes it a lot easier for you, even if you could make due without. Why do that to yourself? That’s not the purpose of everything. It’s not about looking normal. It’s about making yourself functional.
People will ask questions. Sometimes, it’ll be friendly, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes, you’ll not be able to deal with it all right then, and will be embarrassed afterwards that you gave in and used an easy way out and didn’t give all the information. (Like when I used my migraines as the reason I carry things which I would carry just for my migraines, but use to cope with other disorders).
But overall, you’ll likely be more open to yourself about how you act in general in terms of not hiding, by starting with the tools you use. And the tools will likely grow as you get more and more accepting of yourself in that way you didn’t realize you weren’t accepting of.
I have an AAC app on my phone now. I’ve used it to do things like order food. I didn’t even realize an AAC app would be helpful a few year ago.
I started with just getting earplugs about two years ago.
Is it everything? No, but it definitely helps.
I agree with this reply.
Part of being happy and healthy as a disabled person is being unapologetic.
My stims and sensory needs don’t hurt anyone. The cane Boyfriend uses doesn’t hurt anyone. Why are we the ones being told to apologize?
Somehow existing as a disabled person who isn’t sorry that they are disabled is seen as militant. Not wanting to be pitied or used as others’ inspiration porn is militant.
I think we have to choose. Who am I going to take care of? Myself or the guy that’s making 47 false assumptions about me?
I’ve found that it’s something of a double edged sword.
Being more open and unapologetic about who I am has helped in all of the good ways you both mention.
But it’s also made it much harder to get along with most ableist people. When I look more like myself, I attract more hostile attention. When I am honest about why I look the way I do, I have to deal with people’s assumption that autistic people have no empathy, feelings, or ability to care about other people.
I am much more comfortable in my own skin now. But that comfort means that, now, I expect to be treated well and I get angry when I am not. I’m much less willing to back down when people treat me badly or refuse to meet my access needs. This can be good, but it can get really bad really fast.
I think - my approach is better than it used to be, but that it probably still needs a lot of calibrating. There are battles I try to fight that I should probably back away from. There are people I need to be more cautious about antagonizing. There are people who it is very very dangerous to be honest with, and I’m not sure how to properly take that danger into account.
Do y'all have ways of dealing with the retaliation you face for being less apologetic about being disabled than people want you to be?