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How The Word #Adulting Is Super Ableist

Part of my unmasking journey has been to unpack what ableism is and how pervasive it is. Today, I was thinking about how it's challenging enough, probably even for able-bodied, neurotypical people, to "adult” and that, as an autistic, I doubt I'll ever meet the true criteria of #adulting.

One of the things that make it hard for me to fit society's view of an adult is my difficulty with things that require me to meet new people. I actively avoid those situations and prefer sticking to things I'm comfortable with and understand. This doesn't align with society's expectation of what an adult should be able to do, such as securing services, living with others, having a job, or going shopping without any issue. For an autistic, some of those tasks are excruciatingly difficult because they involve interacting with others, understanding social cues, dealing with different sensory experiences, and navigating unpredictability.

So, how is the word "adulting" ableist? It implies that you need to "adult" to do these tasks and be considered an adult. However, many of these tasks are extremely difficult for people who are not able-bodied or neurotypical, and therefore, the term excludes us. I am an adult, an autistic adult, and there are things I can do and things I cannot do. But I am not defined by the things I cannot do; that doesn't make me any less of an adult. Being an adult is not an action; it is a state of being.

Using "adult" as a verb to describe certain actions excludes people who cannot engage in those specific actions that are included in the definition of "adulting," and that is ableist. We should recognize that everyone's path to adulthood is unique, and one's worth as an adult is not determined by their ability to perform specific tasks.


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