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Still not convinced? Take a look at the countless neurotypicals in our society.

Do you know how common it was among my high school peers to be obsessed with animated Disney movies? Call it 90s kids nostalgia, but it was a such a thing it was actually somewhat trendy to love Disney. I loved and watched Spongebob all the way through high school and partway into college, and I was far from alone in that. Lots of people sleep with teddy bears or other stuffed animals well into their twenties. Think of the “nerd” culture, and the way fully-grown adults will cosplay—dress up as their favorite fictional characters—and go to conventions or collect “toys.” Disney World has packages for couples on their honeymoon. I still remember when a popular girl in my high school brought in a Hannah Montana blanket to snuggle with during class. And how about Pokémon, including the Pokémon Go movement? Wildly popular among teens and adults, right? And don’t even get me started on the “Bronies.” Don’t even.

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I could go on and on and on forever with examples of this. In fact, it’s so common for neurotypical adults and teens to have so-called “age-inappropriate interests” that I’m going to be very bold and frank here: I think we’re discriminating against people with autism by so severely pathologizing their “age-inappropriate” interests. Sure, it may be unusual for a 10-year-old child to love Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine . But the reality is, “age-inappropriate” interests in and of themselves are not uncommon . We all have our interests. We all have things we loved as kids that we still love. We all have things that bring us joy and comfort, and sometimes those things were originally intended for younger children.

I think we’re discriminating against people with autism by so severely pathologizing their “age-inappropriate” interests.
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That’s another thing: even if “age-inappropriate” interests weren’t as common among neurotypicals, these interests are a source of comfort for those with autism. They entertain. In a world rife with confusion and sensory overload and exhausting interactions with others and strides to “pass” for neurotypicals, people with autism deserve to have things that give them comfort during their down time, just like anyone. If they genuinely enjoy something and it’s not causing them any personal harm or interfering with life, they shouldn’t have to conform to neurotypical standards in the comfort of their own home, or spend their free time in a “socially acceptable” way if they don’t want to (it’s called “free time” for a reason!).

people with autism deserve to have things that give them comfort during their down time, just like anyone.
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