It is ironic that autistic people are criticized for having a lack of theory of mind when that is literally what privilege is, and what affects so many millions of people in the various majorities around the world, neurotypical people included. Privilege insulates members of a majority against awareness of the struggles of the minority.
So many of us in the autistic community are already doing immense amounts of emotional labor for non-autistic people by creating lots and lots and lots of educational content, from our unique perspectives, on what it means to be autistic. We’re already doing the heavy lifting.
All you, a non-autistic person, have to do is watch it, think about it, and maybe change how you interact with autistic people a bit. The weight of this process has been on us, autistic people, to advocate for ourselves. The least the neurotypical society we find ourselves in can do is take the time to listen to what we write and say and take it under advisement.
Labels, like the people who created them, are mirrors that can reflect important aspects of our beingness back to us and reveal elements of ourselves that we perhaps otherwise could not see, and in that, they have tremendous value.
But they should always be directing us back to our center of awareness, like a guide sending us home after taking us to the top of a mountain where we can gain a better view of where and how we fit into the whole landscape. They should be a tool for increasing awareness, not mistaken for being the awareness, themselves.
Autism still exists even if it is not discussed or described by language. You do not cure someone of being autistic by removing labels from their experience. Other labels come in to fill the vacuum, labels we didn’t choose for ourselves, labels which are based on fundamental misunderstandings, labels that deny us help, accommodations, and acceptance, labels that cause actual harm to us in the form of prejudice, violence and higher instances of suicide.