Members of autism support groups and advocacy groups often like to see themselves as brave warriors, united against a common enemy. After all, being a warrior seems so much more admirable than being a victim.

The victim identity isn’t a healthy one, but being a warrior is definitely not healthy as a primary identity either. A liberation movement which is formed merely to destroy a system doesn’t produce people who are good at creating better systems. As long as their self-esteem is based on being fighters, they’ll keep looking for problems so that they can keep fighting.

The problem with many advocacy groups is that they are built on a victims-and-warriors paradigm. You can see it in their images and hear it in their slogans. What do you generally contribute when you post in a Facebook group? Take a look at your postings of the past, say, six months, accross multiple groups and pages. How many of your posts and comments are the moans and groans of a victim? How many are attacks by a warrior? Is that all you are, a victim or a warrior?

Victimhood is a child-state. There’s a time for recognising one’s own helplessness and being able to say, “I tried, and I could not escape. I am not to blame.” Warriorhood is a teenage state. There is also a time to rebel, to fight for your rights or defend your sanity, and to go to war for the sake of others.

There’s a time for that, but don’t build your life or your group or your organisation around those identities. The child-state and the teenage states are not mature. If we’re constantly acting like victims and fighters, we’re not taking responsibility for growing up. Develop an identity as a builder or a grower, a creator or an collaborator, an inventor or a solver, an artist of life, a learner-teacher, a peacemaker, an encourager, a maintainer of productive orderliness or a guide to free expression, a calming presence or an exciting joybringer, a friend who helps friends to help friends.

Help me whenever I forget that I decided to grow up.