I have a parent who has a lot in common with descriptions of what it's like to be on the autism spectrum. They've never been diagnosed & wouldn't want to pursue it. I've started giving them the kind of accommodations & understanding autistic people say are helpful, with positive effects. I'm trying to get other family members to understand that some things (leaving the room if sensory overload, etc) are not deliberately rude. Without a formal diagnosis, they are hesitant. I'm not sure what to do
Anon, you’re a really good kid, and I’m really glad your parent has someone like you in their corner.
That said, I’m gonna need a moment to let my incandescent fucking rage at your family’s ableist bullshit, because you asked for concrete solutions, not a rant.
Actually, y’know what? No. I’m gonna rant, at least a bit, because this is relevant.
Anon, here’s what I would tell your family members:
I would tell them that treating a formal diagnosis as a prerequisite to try to understand or accommodate someone–especially someone they claim to care about–is incredibly callous and shitty.
I would say that this is not about a formal autism diagnosis; it’s about making family spaces and activities accessible to and inclusive of a member of the family, and if they can’t handle the mild inconvenience of trying to understand someone who isn’t intuitively just like them, they may want to sit down and radically reassess their notion of family, because that is sure as fuck not how family should be acting. And I would also probably tell them that people who behave the way they are certainly don’t line up with my definition of family; and I am prepared to act accordingly.
I would point out that your parent is likely already bending over backwards to accommodate behavior that may seem invasive, uncomfortable, or unpleasant to them; because that is what society–and apparently your family–demands of ND folks. And that the fact that your parent needs to do this places unfair strain on them, and probably presents a pretty significant barrier to them being able to enjoy or really participate in family gatherings and events, because it takes a lot of attention and energy.
If it seemed useful, I might also point out the numerous and salient barriers to formal diagnosis, especially for adults. But what I’d emphasize is that it shouldn’t take a doctor’s note to treat someone you care about like a person.
(In the name of productivity, I would probably be marginally more polite in the actual conversations than what I’ve written above. But that would be the gist of it.)