Disability is not always immediately visible.
But whether or not you can tell if a person is disabled—if they say they are, they are.
In fact, if someone tells you they are disabled—you don’t argue with them. They know themselves better than you ever will.
Redditor CaptDeliciousPants found themselves in a tricky situation when another person refused to believe their disability existed because they couldn’t immediately suss it out based on stereotypes.
After pushing back hard at this classmate, they received some not-so-friendly and not-so-welcome assessments of their behavior.
Needing objective feedback from strangers, they went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” in search of this:
“AITA for outing myself as autistic to make a point?”
Our original poster, or OP, set up the circumstances that lead to them outing themselves.
“I’m a college student in a class with a guy who behaves really inappropriately (he’s not important).”
“A while ago, myself and some other classmates were planning on making a formal complaint about his behavior and a classmate who I’ll call Jessica objected because she says the guy has autism.”
“Someone asked how she knew he was autistic and basically, she doesn’t. She has a lot of assumptions based on nothing but she says she’s a psych major, so that makes her an expert or something.”
“I piped up that I have autism and it doesn’t excuse any of that guy’s behavior. Jessica said that didn’t make sense because I don’t display any symptoms of autism.”
“I said that I obviously have several symptoms because I’ve been professionally diagnosed as autistic but I still manage to not be a complete dick.”
Unfortunately, OP’s friend didn’t afford them the courtesy of moving on.
“I thought that was it and we would move on but Jessica kept talking about that guy having autism and called us ableist.”
“I said she has no evidence that he’s disabled. She argued that he acts autistic but there was actually no evidence that I have autism and basically called me a liar.”
“I pulled up some of my disability paperwork on my phone and offered to show anyone who doubted me. She barely even glanced at it and started accusing me of gatekeeping autism.”
“I wasn’t gatekeeping, I just have experience that contradicts her wild a** assumptions. She said that just because that guy isn’t comfortable telling us he’s disabled doesn’t make his autism less valid.”
“No one except for her has ever said that guy is autistic, she hasn’t even talked to him about it. She just expects us to take her random diagnosis of this guy as gospel.”
“I was pissed all the way off at that point and said she’s just a psych major at a community college and doesn’t know what the f**k she’s taking about, then I left. Now I just ignore Jessica completely.”
Jessica has been getting some petty revenge, in the meantime.
“So recently, as disciplinary steps are being taken against that guy, Jessica has apparently made claims that I bully her and how it was inappropriate to just tell everyone I have autism.”
“She says I made people uncomfortable and that I put pressure on other disabled students to disclose their private information.”
“The professor is trying to sort out all the class’s grievances and asked that I apologize. I refused because I think it’s bullsh*t.”
“I haven’t bullied Jessica, I just don’t talk to her. She’s the only one who’s had a problem with me saying I’m autistic and that’s because she’s mad that I didn’t agree with her.”
“The professor said that because of my autism, I have to seriously consider that I might be in the wrong even if I don’t immediately see how I could be.”
“So here I am. AITA for disclosing my disability status, telling Jessica that she didn’t know what she was talking about and refusing to speak to her?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors were mostly annoyed OP even had to ask if they were wrong.
“Everyone is making this complicated. You asked a student to stop diagnosing other classmates with autism without being qualified to do so, because it offended you as an actual person with autism.”
“She is now retaliating against you because of it. Go as high up the chain as you can and file a grievance for harassment.”
“And tell her f**king psych prof that she’s diagnosing people with autism without any clinical interaction.”
“If she wants to work in that field she doesn’t want to lose her licence for malpractice before she even gets it. Edit. I was so outraged I forgot to render verdict. NTA.”
“Double edit: instead of ‘asking,’ you should have just straight up told that guy, ‘hey, you know Jessica is going around telling our classmates that you’re autistic.'”
“That would have had a much better result directed at the actual offender, not you.”
“Triple edit: I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this all night. I’m so upset for OP right now. That teacher also needs a reprimand and some training.”
“This is nothing more than outright gaslighting to make the situation go away for the TEACHER. F**k that. This is harassment and discrimination.”
“They have no right to tell OP to apologize for being a victim of a discriminatory person. And how dare they try and use that exact disability to make OP doubt their reality.”
“As a woman I have lived my life having people tell me everything is just imaginary, and it’s f**king awful.”
“No one in a position of power should be able to make people doubt themselves for the sake of convenience and expediency.”-luminous_beings
“NTA, if she is in the process of getting her Bachelor’s degree, it is illegal to diagnose someone without having a proper job and degree to actually do so.”
“She is probably embarrassed that you called her out and now she is trying to punish you for it. I also completely agree with luminous_beings that you should go to her psych professor or even advisor to discuss what she is trying to do.”
“In the US, I was taught in my Psychology courses that it is extremely illegal to diagnose someone when you are not in a position to do so. Call her ass out to the board and anyone else that can get her removed.”-scorpionmeal
“Honestly I’d see who your college’s 504 coordinator is and file a complaint against that instructor.”
“‘The professor said that because of my autism, I have to seriously consider that I might be in the wrong even if I don’t immediately see how I could be.'”
“He is citing your disability as his reasoning for not taking your claim seriously. This person is not your doctor nor is it his job to interpret how your autism affects you.”
“If you have a 504 plan that is all the info he needs and leaping to his own conclusions is incredibly biased.”
“Replace consider you may be wrong because of your autism with considering you are wrong because ‘you’re a woman and women are emotional.'”
“It’s the same statement, making a judgement and basing his actions on stereotypes and bigotry whether it’s ableism or sexism it’s not just wrong it’s unprofessional and illegal.”-Owain-X
“NTA. You’re Ableist? That’s rich, when she doesn’t even want to acknowledge your diagnosis. She doesn’t feel bullied, she’s embarrassed.”
“She wanted to appear an authority and you proved she doesn’t know an AH from an elbow. Which is the reason you should just ignore her.”
“As a side note, your professor is also being an AH. They’re trying to use your disability to manipulating you into making their life easier.”-PlatinaD
“Yeah, I’m autistic as well snd it took until my 40s to realize that in fact, allistics do not function like that. Even when they’re the ones in charge.”
“They just don’t think like we do. They’ll let us manic pixie dream girl ourselves into burnout over and over because we’re always so sure everyone is a team player with a good heart.”
“Why would you not be? Most people are not. NTs value group harmony over truth or justice. It’s bizarre. But it’s how things usually go. Being aware of it has helped a lot.”-obiwantogooutside
“NTA. Jessica is a jerk. She’s assuming someone has a disability who either doesn’t or doesn’t want to disclose it, as well as spreading that info around.”
“Additionally, she’s disgusting for assuming you’re lying because you don’t fit her perfect definition and diagnosis of autistic.”
“Don’t be fooled by your teacher; they are now weaponizing your autism against you. Your disability doesn’t automatically mean you’re wrong and should apologize.”
“That said, depending on the behavior, even if the classmate has autism, you may need to report it anyway. autism doesn’t equate to harmless.”-Long-Week
Nobody thought OP, who was being made into a villain for their disability, had any reason to apologize.
“NTA – Gosh, the community college overly-diagnostic psych major in the wild! That was painful to read.”
“Your spelling tells me you’re probably in the US. If you’re at an American Community College, I would file a complaint and document your side of the story immediately (both Jessica and the professor for gaslighting you)”-MyCouchPulzOut_IDont
“NTA but your tactical understanding needs work.”
“From now on document everything Jessica says and does: she could turn out to be dangerous to your academic future since she is already spreading false rumors about you.”
“Do not make the mistake of barraging your professor with too many complaints as you will just lead him to try to resolve the issue with the least work possible, which would probably not work in your favor since you are currently the person creating work for him independently of how fair or not it might be.”
“Whatever you do do NOT show your anger or frustration at this injustice and try to stay as cool as possible or it’s game over and Jessica will use that opportunity against you to paint you as unstable.”
“Stop volunteering extra information about your autism and stick to the basic facts of what you witnessed in the clearest and most neutral manner possible when talking about it to your classmates or to the professor or to any instance of the university’s administration.”-__-_____-_-__—_
“Practically everyone in this story is ableist, except you. I’m not autistic, but I do have ADHD, and since I’m more the inattentive type, I totally understand people not believing your diagnosis because ‘you don’t seem like you have it,’ and wow does it ever make me mad.”
“Jessica was being ableist for trying to invalidate you. She’s the one gatekeeping.”
“Usually, when people say that sort of thing, I try to turn it into a teaching moment for them, like ‘hey, not that I need your approval, but I actually don’t present typically and while you’re misconception about my diagnosis is common, that’s super inappropriate to say.'”
“But, Jessica refused to listen to you because what, she’s working on a BA in psych? Please.”
“Every psych course I’ve taken, the professor always warns the class to not go around diagnosing yourself/everyone around you, because everyone has symptoms of a variety of different disorders, and you can’t just go around assuming you know everything about everyone lol.”
“Disclosing that you are autistic shouldn’t be so taboo either. It’s not like you just randomly brought it up even, you mentioned it because you were trying to put Jessica in her place and teach her that:”
“1. autism is a spectrum, and she’s not an expert on how it manifests in everyone, and:”
“2. mental disorders can be explanations for behaviour, but they’re not always an excuse.”
“If disclosing that you are autistic makes people oh so uncomfortable, that’s their problem and something they need to work on.”
“Also, your professor is wrong and also kind of ableist for essentially telling you to assume you’re wrong because you’re neurodivergent, so I would probably take this whole thing above their heads and formally complain to admin about it, because clearly everyone currently involved sucks (except you). NTA.”-Interesting-Egg3786
“NTA Jessica sounds overzealous and like she’s parroting stuff she doesn’t fully grasp the meanings and nuances of.”
“She’s just mad that you popped her bubble of ignorance and virtue signalling that people can, and should, take personal responsibility regardless of mental health and disability, and being asked to do so is not an attack on a particular group.”
“The fact is, being an AH is almost always a ‘choice.’ There are factors that can help explain why someone acts the way they do, but they don’t excuse them.”
“The people around them are still perfectly within their rights to avoid/respond to disturbing behaviours, regardless of why the behaviours occur.”
“If someone is waving a knife around, I will not prioritise their need for help/support/understanding; I will look after myself first and call for help second.”
“As others said, your professor’s trying to avoid having difficult conversations by scapegoating you.”
“To be fair, this isn’t a psych class and the professor didn’t sign up to handle this sh*t, but that also means they are not clinically qualified to say that your autism may prevent you from distinguishing what’s right from wrong. That was uncalled for and an overstep.”
“Glad the guy’s on his way to disciplinary action; he sounds like a real jack*ss.”-fmlwhateven
After such powerful responses, OP updated the thread:
“Thank you all the for the insight and advice. I really didn’t realize how sh*tty our professor was being until some of you guys pointed it out.”
“I just assumed they would always do what was best for the class but now I understand that isn’t the case here.”
“I’ve also learned that the professor let that guy cause trouble way longer than they should have. I truly have no idea why he let this get so out of control.”
“I emailed some people last night. My mentor, my disability advocate and the disabled student union president have gotten back to me already.”
“I’ve been advised not to bother attending or doing homework for that class until this is resolved.”
“The professor sent me an email saying that I created a hostile learning environment and he’s ejecting me from the class and he’s reported me to the dean for abusive behavior.”
“I just forwarded it to my disability advocate. I had a wee bitty panic attack but I’m okay now.”
So OP learned they are up against an ableist system that will do anything to protect itself and its own ego.
Good luck, OP—may this complicated affair turn out in your favor.