Stress Responses and Autism: Fight: Meltdown, Flight: Elope/Bolt, Freeze: Shutdown, Fawn: Camouflage/Mask
Are Autistic Stress Responses renamed as a way to further dehumanize and separate us from the rest of humanity?
Fight, flight, freeze, and fawn are primal (acute) stress responses that protect us from danger. This primal response dates back to our ancestors, who would have faced more immediate risks than we face today.
Whether you're in physical danger (or experience a perceived threat), your stress response may be triggered as a way for your body to keep itself safe without having to cognitively plan the appropriate actions (because in life or death situations, taking time to think over your options can get you killed).
When this happens, hormones are released by your amygdala (the brain section responsible for fear) and pumped through your body to keep you alive in perilous situations.
Our ancestors needed this stress response to protect them from lions, wolves, and other large animals. However, many humans today experience similar life-and-death feelings (as if an animal is chasing us) when answering phone calls, speaking in front of others, or for other day-to-day events.
According to Simple Psychology
Flight is: running away from danger.
Autistic People have the same stress responses as other humans. However, because the world isn't set up for us, and living in this world is traumatizing, many Autistic People are constantly on edge, stuck in states of hypervigilance, causing our stress responses to be triggered more often than our non-autistic peers (who the world caters to).
These stress responses even have different names in the world of Autism (and, in my opinion, serve to dehumanize us further, demonizing and weaponizing Autistic trauma):
Fight is: called melting down.
Flight is: called elopement or bolting.
Freeze is: shutting down
Fawning is: camouflaging or masking our Autistic traits
These experiences are relatively common human events, though some of us (especially if we have a history of trauma) may have heightened stress responses, causing us to be hypervigilant and constantly on edge.
Instead of asking "WHY," Autistic people are experiencing these responses more frequently than other people (examining the environments that traumatize us and trigger these responses), these responses are commonly dismissed as "part of Autism" and "something Autistic People do" - which does a massive disservice to Autistic People because it prevents us from examining the environmental causes for these events.
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