Autistic people are constantly being gaslit by others, we are constantly being told what we think or feel is incorrect:
“It’s not too loud”
“It doesn’t hurt”
“Don’t be so sensitive”
Or we are made to feel like a burden when we no longer can eat our safe foods or same routines. From a young age many of us are made to feel like we are a inconvenience and that we should be like the other kids code for quiet and compliant. All these things pile up and make us re-evaluate everything we think, feel, say or do. This adds to the feelings of needing to hide, mask or shield – it is simply unacceptable to be ourselves and experience the world in the way we do. It is much more comfortable for everyone else if we bottle up our struggles, stop talking about our special interests and eat whatever is put in front of us.
Constant gaslighting is even more difficult to comprehend if we have alexithymia (see Alexithymia – emotional processing ‘gone wrong’) as we are constantly confused or anxious about our physical and emotional sensations and emotions. We are told we what we are feeling is wrong even when we have spent lots of time reflecting on what we feel and what we may need. Our attempts at self-advocacy are met with disdain and a superiority complex in which it is thought that adults know best.
All of this is traumatising, the constant suggestion that you are lying or being overly dramatic, repeatedly being told that everything is okay even when your heart and your mind are on fire. It is really invalidating and lonely.
I want to knock over the gaslight.
Believe Autistic people when we say something hurts or is uncomfortable. Believe us when we tell you something triggers us. Believe us when we meltdown or go non-speaking. Believe us that our feelings are valid. We have a right to autonomy, safety and consent too.