Last year, a well-intentioned but misguided group tried to get people to abstain from all online social networking so they could get a feel for what it means to be autistic. Corina Becker and Kathryn Bjornstad started Autistic Speaking Day to counter this. Last year's contributors can be found in a listing on their blog for the event.
Last year, I wrote in support of autistics speaking. I suggested:
Instead I say, go to the blogs by individuals on the spectrum and say hi. Read some entries. Learn what their lives are like. Our children will one day be autistic adults. We want to make sure our children have a good support system, well, let's be a good support system to the autistic adults who are in our midst now.
Sometimes it's hard to be a good support system when miscommunications occur, and it is unfortunate when friendships unravel over disagreements, but speaking out as an ally and knowing when to hush as an ally and allow those who we support to advocate and speak for themselves are important.
So, tomorrow, on Autistic Speaking Day, I'm still suggesting you take time to read their words. You don't have to agree with them at the individual level, you don't have to like them personally, but you should honor their right to speak and that they choose to, that they fight for the right to express themselves, and that they accomplish that.
Someday our kids may get to do the same thing, and we want a receptive, accepting audience for them to feel safe to express themselves, that they will not be personally attacked for that. They must learn that they may encounter criticism, but where that criticism is offered with evidence, they are not being dismissed, but instead treated as equals in the discourse and worthy of debate.
I hope that tomorrow will be a productive and instructive day for those who participate as writers and readers and that dialogues will occur on the blogs and community built.