6. Autistic adults are adults. That means that we have the minds of adults.

Some people talk about something called “mental age”. People use mental age when they talk about developmental disabilities. Adults with developmental disabilities need help with a lot of things. Some of those are things that most kids can do by themselves, so people say that in our minds, we are like kids.

Some autistic people have interests that usually only kids have. We might also talk like kids do, or play in the same ways that kids play. People might say we are like kids, but these people are wrong.

For example:

Beth is 36 and has an intellectual disability. She does not know left from right, and she really likes Blue’s Clues. A doctor says that Beth is like a 5-year-old, and says she is “mentally 5.” This doesn’t make sense, since Beth has been alive for 36 years. Her brain is not like a 5-year-old’s brain, and it is rude to say that she is like a child.

Being a kid isn’t about what you can and can’t do, or about how you talk or play. Neither is being an adult. You learn and grow every year you are alive. People are the age they are, and mental ages aren’t real. Autistic adults don’t have the minds of kids. We have the minds of autistic adults, and autistic adults with intellectual disabilities are still adults.

Autistic people can do anything that any other adult can do. Autistic people can have sex, get married, have kids, make our own choices, and live our lives. We might do things differently than non-autistic people, and we might need more help. But we are still adults.