Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Changing the Name of Autistics Speaking Day

I came up with the name Autistics Speaking Day rather impulsively, when it was mainly a jab at Communication Shutdown and somewhat towards a certain big-name "Autism fundraising" organization, and when I didn't expect my proposal to be so well received.  I kept the name mainly for the history of it and the nifty acronym it created.  However, there is an issue with it, an issue that I have been all too aware of from the very beginning.

The issue of the word "Speaking".

The implications of the name has both Kathryn and I concerned.  We have tried to make it clear that we consider the "Speaking" part to be figurative, that communication of any sort is welcome here, that what matters is that Autistics who want to participate can do so, in whatever way they feel the most comfortable, to communicate what they want other people to know about themselves, about their lives, about being Autistic, anything at all.

Yet, the issue remains, and the last thing either of us want to do is continue with it unaddressed.  We would rather address it now, when we can get the feedback of the community and have the time to make the changes needed in preparation for next year (assuming that people still want ASDay to continue).

So, we ask our community: would it be more inclusive if we changed the name of Autistics Speaking Day?  If yes, then what do you suggest we change it to?

Please follow the link to the poll form and submit your response there.  Or else leave a comment here.


  1. Autistics' Communicating Day.

  2. I personally like the name because it reflects that Autistics have something to say even IF its not verbally done so. Speaking to me, does not necessarily reflect using verbal speech. And as an added bonus - the name contradicts a very well known organization that tends to believe Autistics have nothing to say.

  3. How about something with "connect" or "connecting?" Or "shout out?"

  4. Just my neurotypical 2c : "Autistics Speaking Day" takes place almost entirely on the internet, so the primary mode of communication is writing (with the option of video or recorded sound).

    So already "Autistics Speaking Day" is a figure of speech, not a literal expression. At least to neurotypical me.

  5. You ask me, you couldn't have come up with a better designation that "Autistics Speaking Day," except maybe simply "Autistics Speak." When Autism Speaks speaks, "autism" is a word that is drilled in repeatedly for emphasis. I was skeptical at first of so many with a beef, but even casual observations of media interviews of their spokescritters reveals rather intense message discipline.

    If it means anything that money talks, then it makes sense that autistics speak. Whether or not they utter utterances. No? At any rate, it never occurred to me that autistics speaking would necessarily entail an oral element.

  6. I think it could be made more inclusive with a name change. I doubt it would remove the objections raised by many, however.

    I liked the idea of "autistics speaking day". The play on "Autism Speaks" was excellent. I find it ironic that many think "autism speaks" represents those who are nonverbal, young, or intellectually disabled and not obviously "speaking". But, when "autistics speaking" is brought up, there is controversy.

    I spent a lot of time thinking in the days leading up to ASDay about the existing autistic community. At least the parts that I see/hear/read. I think that there does need to be a move to be more inclusive as I can say (and I hope you understand I say this with respect) that I don't see how my autistic kid is a part of the autistic community, at least as it seems to be defined. I don't what to suggest that could be a possible way to change that, but I would like to see a movement towards that change.

    As a general rule, I do not write about personal experiences: my own or that of my autistic kid. But, I spent a lot of time wondering how my kid could participate in ASDay. If I were true to my kid, could I be a conduit for that story and wouldn't that be a version of "autistic speaking"? The danger, of course, is of using the child as a sock puppet for the parent's views and experiences. I don't think it is an easy task, even for the most well intentioned parent.

    I greatly appreciate you opening a dialogue on inclusion. I hope I haven't diverted it too much with a parent's viewpoint.

  7. How about just "AutisticSDay"? This would let you keep the ASDay short form.

    Those who want and/or can "shout out" online can do so, and could be encouraged to do so.

    It's still your day.


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