About neurodivergent feminism
Thanks to some new TV shows, Autistic people have been getting more representation in the media. For example, we have Miracle Doctor: a Turkish soap opera currently on air on Argentine channel Telefe during prime time, which follows the story of a medical doctor diagnosed with ASD. Another very popular series is Atypical (Netflix), which narrates young Sam's life. At age 18, he is diagnosed with ASD and he starts to worry about his future romantic and professional life. How is the situation today for Autistic people who are just joining the job market in Argentina?
Autism spectrum in adulthood and access to job opportunities
According to psychologist Gabriel Grivel, specialized in autism, most of the research on this condition is still new and, thus, there's a general lack of data in both public and private settings.
Autism is a condition that impacts access to job opportunities, which are very few because prejudice based on ignorance is still rampant. During the pandemic, the consultancy where Gabriel works successfully monitored twenty employment processes for Autistic adults who were hired by three international companies part of an open, competitive market in Argentina and Mexico. This proves that the existence of monitoring mechanisms to ensure rights are respected—which, in many cases, make up for the lack of State supervision—is important for adult people with disabilities.
In Gabriel's words:
"People think that an Autistic person is a person who has intellectual disabilities, no oral language abilities and very stiff behaviors. Although this description may fit some people on the spectrum, there are others who are fully functional and are able to build the lives they want. It always depends on the opportunities created by the environment and each person's own abilities."
Neurodivergent feminism: functional diversity and women
The issues of people with disabilities are part of the conversation for intersectional feminism. In June 2021, Traductoras e Intérpretes Feministas de Argentina (TEIFEM) started a series of talks open to the general public through their Youtube channel. Belén Núñez interviewed Marión León Torres, an occupational therapist born in Chile with a wanderlust soul. She introduced the audiente to a very different reality.
It is important to highlight how being a woman affects assessment, diagnosis and treatment for different types of functional diversity. According to Marión, diagnoses can be conditioned by gender, too. In Chile, autism spectrum diagnoses tend to be confirmed four times faster in men than women, because of the stereotypes regarding personality traits of those genders. Thus, shy or withdrawn men may be given a diagnosis much faster than women who share those very same traits. Similarly, traits like coldness, anger and selfishness are usually considered typical of men but not of women.
Gabriel Grivel agrees and adds that, in autism circles, there is a huge lack of support for women, too. Researchers on this topic say that, among other variables, this is a consequence of the fact that both tests and diagnostic criteria are made by men, for men. Additionally, little girls, teenage girls and adult women may develop very strong masking and camouflaging abilities due to societal pressures against the female gender.
Functional diversity, access to work opportunities and the importance of first person testimonies
Florencia Cambareri (she/her) is an activist for people with disabilities and inclusion and a disabled person herself. She also has a degree in Human Resources Management. Since January 2020, Florencia has been sharing her thoughts in her Instagram account, where she has created a space to reflect and learn about disabilities from her own experiences.
Florencia raises issues surrounding the daily lives of people with disabilities such as invisibility, infantilization and the words used by abled people to refer to them. On top of that, she has delved into another key topic: access to work opportunities.
In Argentina, several laws have been enacted to protect this population group, including their right to work. However, there is currently no regulation to punish the failure to comply with the mandated 4% hiring quota destined to people with disabilities. Today, over 80% of Argentine people with disabilities of working age don't have a job.