Extra relational labor”

Joe Biel’s The Autism Relationships Handbook arrived in the mail today from Microcosm Publishing. Beyond being a very helpful book for understanding relationships of many sorts, it’s so refreshing to read a book about autism written “we” not “they.”

From the first chapter I particularly appreciated the notion of relational labor:

Some people are born with certain inherent privileges based on their identity and appearance. Normally this privilege is simply because these groups comprise either a majority of the population or that people like them hold all of the power in society. Lots of other marginalized populations—nonwhite people, queer and transgender people, women, individuals with disabilities both visible and invisible—face exponential discrimination, insensitive remarks, and expectations to do more emotional labor in order to be treated as an equal. The struggles of being autistic aren’t the same as other marginalized groups, but those of us who are neurodiverse are doing extra relational labor on a daily basis. Respect the work that you do. It’s exhausting to be different in a world that you demands that either conform or set yourself off on an ice floe. You are a badass. Similarly, understanding that other marginalized people are experiencing similar mistreatment can be important to consider and respect.