Autism and Justified Anger

On my autism treatment and acceptance, Autisticook commented by saying that anger in an autistic is often justified. She compared it to the situation where a wheelchiar user gets angry because they are faced with yet another two-step staircase that wasn’t necessary and where nobody thought of installing a ramp. This made me think: are we overpathologizing anger in people with developmental disabilities (and mental illness)? Are we incorrectly assuming that anger is part of the disorder, while it’s just a response to a lack of accommodations? This is obviously not a scientific discussion, as what is a reasonable accommodation depends on your perspective.

I just a few days ago heard about cognitive accessibility, where people accommodate their language, for exxample, for understanding by people with learning difficulties. I’m trying to find an accessible and understandable explanation of this, but can’t seem to find one. What I understan dit to mean, includes for example using simple, straightfoward language. With autistic people, you may need to refrain from using figures of speech, for example.

What if you were dropped in a country where you didn’t speak the language and everyone refused to speak English? Would you get angry? Quite likely you would. Now understand autism as communicating in a different language, too. Is it strange then that the autistic gets angry when you routinely refuse to make an effort to speak their language?

Autism is not just a communication disability. It’s in a way a sensory disability, too. Imagine, again, being in that foreign country and everyone shouting at you for whatever reason. They also randomly shine a flashlight at your eyes for whatever reason. In addition, this country is rich on insects, and they crawl over your body all the time. Would you get frustrated? Sure you would!

We do not medicate wheelchair users for getting frustrated at the umpteenth staircase. You would not want to be put on medication if you were in the aforementioed country. So why do we medicate autistics who are irritable? It’s probably because accommodating them requires a radical paradigm shift in what we always thought access was all about. Is it a more radical shift than the shift towards wheelchiar accessibility? I am not sure.


4 thoughts on “Autism and Justified Anger

  1. I like your analogy / metaphor thingie. It's where intent does actually matter, even though some people say that if someone feels hurt, it shouldn't matter whether the perpetrator meant to hurt them or not. I disagree. If you were dropped in a country where you didn't speak the language, and you could tell that everyone was trying their best to understand you, but understanding was simply not happening… you'd still feel frustrated but it's SO different from people saying, yeah we could try, we just don't want to.


  2. Hi Astrid, you touched on something that I have wondered aloud for years. Autism is a sensory disorder for many-in some cases life-limiting as for me. While I know that anxiety has been a part of having AS all my life, circumstantial anxiety certainly occurs as does frustration (that can lead to anger and meltdowns) when I cannot properly express myself or am being harmed. I also misinterpret a lot as I am sensitive to vocal and facial changes in others (though I refuse eye contact). Thank you for visiting my blog and God bless! Keep advocating.


  3. Autism is certainly not a disease its a disorder related to brain which is found in small children. Genetics actually is not responsible for all the cases of autism because parents who are suffered with Autism in their young age or have any family members with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a stronger probability of having children with Autistic disorder, and if two parents have autism symptoms in their first child the chances of the having another child with this disorder increases dramatically.


  4. “What if you were dropped in a country where you didn’t speak the language and everyone refused to speak English? Would you get angry? Quite likely you would.”

    Nope, because I’m American and I don’t want to be like the Ugly American stereotype of tourists who travel to countries where English isn’t the lingua franca then demand that everyone automatically know and speak English.


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