“Autism is a Superpower”- a way to other

Being Autistic isn’t a tragedy. We’ve been saying this from day one.

But it isn’t a superpower either.

‘Hold on, I thought you were positive about being Autistic?!’

Yes, absolutely, but that’s not the same thing. The ‘superpower’ narrative is just as toxic as the ‘tragedy’ one.

It implies that we have to be exceptional to be acceptable.

It implies that we need to make up for our deficits and struggles.

It implies that we are only worth being included if we work harder than everyone else.


Superpowers are superhuman. They aren’t for people. It is othering, treating us like curiosities (or freaks). ‘Positive’ othering is still othering.

It’s also elitist. It creates a hierarchy among Disabled people – those with superpowers (“twice exceptional”, “high-functioning”) and those who are deemed worthless to capitalist society (“intellectually disabled”, “low-functioning”).

High- and low-functioning are related toxic narratives.

“High-functioning” is an excuse to deny accommodations. “Low-functioning” is an excuse to deny agency (AND accommodations). Neither concept benefits Disabled people.

Being Autistic is not a tragedy.

Being Autistic is not a superpower, either.

We do not need to be exceptional to be acceptable.

So can we not celebrate Autistic people’s strengths then? Of course we can! We are AUsome!

Just don’t use our strengths as a condition for being included. Don’t use them to exclude those who are not deemed “productive” according to our narrow capitalist understanding.

We need to broaden our perspective of what a strength is, what intelligence is, what community is. And we cannot make a person’s dignity depend on any of it.

Instead of making Autistic people bend over backwards to ‘compensate for their deficits’, we need to work on our deficits as a society to truly include all people.

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