Today is Autistics Speaking Day. (Unless I messed up my queue or I messed up which day it is or blogger is broken. But I'm assuming that none of this happened.) Today is a day when we all (or as many of us as can executive function in time to write/submit something by today, which is why I am actually writing this all the way back on September 21st) write something about our lives, our experiences, whatever as far as I can tell.
And what I have to say is that we speak EVERY day. Not all of us do it by talking, and even those of us who do aren't always consistent about it. Not all of us do it by typing either, though that is how I am speaking today
Having a day when we all get together and speak is great as a community thing. It's great for flooding people with reminders that we speak all at once. It's great for reminding us that we can speak out.
And I want to use that one BIG day to make sure we all remember something important: We all speak every day. When I stim in public, I say that I am not embarrassed of how my brain is wired. When I get done what I want to get done, I say that I am NOT inherently broken. When I smile, I say that I am not purely tragic, that I can be happy. When I decide that I do want kids of my own, I say that no, being autistic is not a horrible thing that I wouldn't risk passing on. It's something I feel perfectly OK with. I say that I am OK with bringing more autistic people into the world. When I melt down, I am saying that something is wrong. Whenever I do anything at all, even just sit there and not really do much, I am saying something about who I am and what I think. We all get to say things like that.
And sure, educating people isn't our job. I know that. I probably do more educating than I really need to because I like to teach, but I am aware that specifically educating is not my job unless I'm getting paid for it (only in math. sigh.) So rather than spending lots of time explaining everything over and over again, I ask: Do I act like I find my life and the lives of those like me tragic? Does Henry act like his life is inherently tragic? How about Kassiane? How about Ari? How about Amy? How about... and I continue. We don't act like we think ourselves tragedies because we don't think ourselves tragedies. We act like we matter because we do, whatever some other people might think. When we act, we speak. Today, what we say is that we do speak. Today we remind the world that we are people with our own ideas and our own opinions, and that we can and do communicate them. All they need to do is listen.