Sunday, November 1, 2015
Who Do I Speak For? - Autistics Speaking Day 2015
Sparrow Rose Jones "Who Do I Speak For? - Autistics Speaking Day 2015" from Unstrange Mind
It’s the first of November again and that means it’s Autistics Speaking Day. Autistics Speaking Day has been happening every year since 2010, steadily gaining attention and this year I heard a criticism leveled at the annual event.
A parent of an Autistic child declared that the event is mis-named and should be called “Autistics Speaking for Themselves Day” because she wanted to make it clear that those of us who are able to write about our Autistic lives and experiences are not like her child. She presumes that her child will not grow up to be someone who can write about their life and apparently presumes that none of us were ever like her child when we were very young, too.
I’ve written before about the insult and injury of assuming that adults with various competencies are not in any way similar to children still learning basic skills. Today I want to talk about who I write for. It’s an important question — the mother who complained about Autistics Speaking Day wants to make sure everyone knows that we are not speaking for her child.
I do speak for her child. I speak for all the children.
Let me unpack that a little bit.