TW: Murder, terrorism, extremism
To say autistic Twitter the last few days has been wild would be a massive understatement. The media and others were trying to link the Plymouth shooting with autism. Many pushed the narrative that lonely autistic boys get all incels, leading some to commit mass murder and terrorism. There is no doubt that many autistic people are lonely, but almost all of them wouldn’t dare even consider for a second commit violent acts as a response to their loneliness. I believe it is incredibly harmful to imply that autistic people are more violent than the general population.
This view is also not backed up by empirical studies (See below)
Autism spectrum disorders and terrorism: how different features of autism can contextualise vulnerability and resilience
However, there is an elephant in the room regarding misogynistic behaviours and blaming them on autism. The reality is, some of these people are not autistic and are looking for any excuse to avoid accountability, while others are autistic men who claim their disability means they cannot be blamed for their behaviour. I have seen misogyny in the autism community too many times (both on and off Twitter), where non-male autistics don’t feel welcomed and leave autistic spaces due to misogyny.
Erin explains below in her tweets that her concerns were not taken seriously despite being the victim. Her autism was not considered, whereas the male’s autism was automatically used as an excuse.
A small minority of autistic people (like a small minority of the rest of the population) who are lonely end up in communities with extremist views, which can lead to violent actions, murder and terrorism. However, this does not make these people any more innocent as they chose to go down this route (most autistics don’t). Nonetheless, society’s failure has a role to play, as something must have been going desperately wrong for a significant amount of time for somebody to believe the best option is to become an extremist incel and fascist.
Not only does this harm autistic women, but others such as Melissa Simmonds say how black and brown autistics are treaded differently in these situations.
It is an extremely nuanced issue that cannot be solved by me simply writing this blog post. Still, we can all take steps to call out misogynistic behaviour to protect women and learn the signs of when somebody is being radicalised. The NSPCC is a good place to start with their article Protecting children from radicalisation
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