Far too many times achievements by autistic people are sensationalized and the recipient is infantilized. This is how inspiration porn is born. Disabled people are put on a pedestal to make non disabled people feel good. This happens often to autistics who have multiple college degrees, been campaigning against mistreatment, have a career, etc.
Today was no exception. It is no secret I am a veterinary technologist. A veterinary technologist is a vet tech with a four year degree. In my case, its a bachelors of applied science in veterinary technology. When I see disinformation about animals, I will correct people so they are educated.
There is a rampant myth about dogs being autistic. I debunk it here.
This was brought up in a known martyr parent group because a dog lined up toys in a hallway. This person who posted this has no veterinary background and I thought they could benefit from someone who has an extensive veterinary background.
Image description: Post in a group with a photo of lined up dog toys with the text: Just wondering if our dog is autistic . . . he’s been lining toys up!
I commented to show that according to the veterinary profession, autism in dogs is not a real thing. There were “autism moms” who piped in afterwards.
Me: Dogs can’t be autistic. I am an autistic veterinary technologist
Martyr mom 1: They can just not an actual diagnosis for it. Dogs can have a lot of diagnosis similar to that of people
Martyr mom 2: That’s contradicting
Me: What? That im autistic and have a career?
Martyr mom 2: I thought you meant you were an autistic vet tech. But were saying they can’t have autism, so I was confused.
Me: I’m an autistic vet tech. Meaning I have an autism diagnosis. I am not sick so I don’t have autism. you can’t separate autism from me. Please direct your abelism away from me
(side note, I should have read it more closely and could have handled that better)
Martyr mom 2: I think you took what I said wrong. Thats 100% not what i meant or thought you meant.
Me: and to add *gasp* I have a bachelors degree in veterinary technology. I know a few things about animals and their physiology
Martyr mom 3: I don’t think she meant it in a bad way. I’m glad you have achieved so much and I can only hope for the same for ASD son, That being said you do need to work on your social skills because nowhere that Taylor mean to be ableist or demeaning
Me: Its inappropriate for you to tell me to work on my social skills when you don’t know me. If you aren’t disabled you cant decide what is ableist
Martyr Mom 3: Based on your interaction here you do. It actually seems like you are looking for a reason to be offended. Practice a little grace with others and it’ll do the word a lot of good. Have a great day.
Why This Interaction Was Offensive
I am going to start off with that I could have handled this a lot better. I know I flew off the handle and I take responsibility for it.
So I start off offering my credentials and giving my professional answer based off scientific fact and education. There was a martyr mom arguing with me knowing my education and background. Being discredited by random strangers who think they know more about animals than I do. I handle that daily.
Martyr Mom 2 said me being an autistic vet tech was contradictory. I think we both misunderstood each other. She thought that I was a vet tech to autistic pets. To me this would make no sense because because a typical child and an autistic child would see the same pediatrician. I took it as that because I am autistic I can’t be a vet tech. To me this was very ableist. A lot of autistics are very successful in careers and other achievements.
Once martyr mom found out that I am autistic and I have a Bachelors degree in Veterinary Technology, she went right to an infantilizing and patronizing tone. “That’s an amazing accomplishment.” Would she say this to a neurotypical person who earned the same degree? I am betting not. This is very infantilizing and patronizing. Autistic people want to be accepted and not put on a pedestal because we achieve something everyone else does.
I did misunderstand what martyr mom 2 was saying. That is just part of being autistic. Its a fact of my life and I have come to terms with it. Martyr mom 3 does not see it that way. Martyr mom 3 does reiterate what Martyr mom 2 said. I give her that, I misunderstood that.
She then says,”I’m glad you have achieved so much and I can only hope for the same for ASD son, That being said you do need to work on your social skills because nowhere that Taylor mean to be ableist or demeaning.” She uses me for inspiration porn and in the same breath she tells me I need to work on my social skills. She is a walking contradiction herself. She does not believe in her son and uses me to inspire herself to think her son could achieve that. Of course he can with the right supports!
Of course after she tells me that I need to work on my social skills I tell her she was inappropriate to do so. She comes back with,”Based on your interaction here you do. It actually seems like you are looking for a reason to be offended. Practice a little grace with others and it’ll do the word a lot of good. Have a great day.” This was her way of ending the conversation. By this time I had to go to work and I was done dealing with her. If this is how she interacts with me, it makes me wonder how she treats her son.
After this whole conversation was over and I came home from work, it dawned on me. All three martyr moms completely ignored the fact that I have expertise and experience in the veterinary field and I was offering my knowledge. I am autistic, this does not mean I am less knowledgeable. Recognizing autistic people for their accomplishments without sensationalizing them and turning them into inspiration porn needs to be normalized.