Reading about ABA has made me think about something
this book I’m reading is discussing how autistic kids tend not to be affected by peer pressure and the drive to do what others are doing or blend in, and this means that there’s less incentive for them to be “normal.”
that is, autistic kids are less socially aware, and therefore less aware of social rejection, and this is a *problem* for therapists who want to “normalize” kids and reduce their autistic traits/behaviors, because rejection from other kids can’t be used to discourage those behaviors to the same degree as a “neurotypical” kid
And I just think the underlying idea—that negative feedback from peers is some kind of natural mechanism to make kids stop being “weird” and be like everyone else—is deeply messed up. like…this is part of WHY bullying is both so accepted and common and causes such horrific consequences. Because we think that on some level, kids SHOULD be shamed and punished for falling outside the norm even in harmless ways, and that this is just a natural thing that is, within limits, good.
FWIW, I was like 14 when I started to become actually aware of social rejection and able to connect it to my behaviors and actually conceptualize how I might “look” to other people. in other words, I was a freshman in high school when I started to really feel shame for who I was. I’m now 19 and a freshman in college and my outward personality is practically unrecognizable and I’m pretty unhappy that way. I used to be an incredibly bold, outgoing kid and the other day I was actually described as “quiet” by someone. I look a lot more neurotypical than I did when I was 13, but I barely can recognize myself and half the time I feel like I’m a ball of memorized socially acceptable phrases. I don’t even know how to have a conversation with someone about something I like without getting intensely anxious about it. I don’t even know what my interests are anymore because I was frightened into suppressing them. I don’t know who I am because I can no longer just be, everything I say and do is calculated in order to appear acceptable, get people to like me, elicit positive responses, and I’m just…tired.
Autism did not do this. People did this, shitty people who had been taught that people like me were the exception to the guideline of accepting others for who they are. Since I was noticeably “weird,” it was natural, understandable, and expected for this to happen to me.
The book I am reading cites “social stigma/rejection” as a reason for making kids suppress certain autistic behaviors like stimming. This is not okay. This is reinforcing the idea that The System of kids hurting other kids for being different is always going to be here, so instead of trying to fight it, we should mold and alter the “different” kids themselves.
Social rejection doesn’t mold people in a positive way, period. That’s *why* the “we should bully people who _____” jokes are so offensive; it upholds the idea of bullying as a natural and good mechanism for stopping people from being too “abnormal.” And whoever you think you are targeting with that joke, there are autistics actually actively being harmed by that idea.