Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jane Strauss writes Autistics Speaking Day on Facebook

Trigger warning for mentions of abuse

Today is Autistics Speaking Day. 

It was instituted in response to an "interesting" assertion that somehow, by going offline for a day non-Autistics would suddenly have a clue of what it is like to be Autistic.  This is a particularly egregious sillyness, given the huge Autistic community that has grown up online based in part on how many non-speaking Autistics, given a keyboard, not only communicate but are darn eloquent about it.

And do we need it?  You bet.

We need it because the majority society still views Autism as evil.

We need it because non-Autistics continue to argue with Autistics about what we may call ourselves.

We need it because the media continue to present us as stereotypes that would be unacceptable if applied to a racial or religious group.

We need it because Autism "experts" are defended for making jokes at their clients' and the community of Autistics' expense - an "bonding experiences" for non-Autistics who find us to be inconvenient or funny, and then not held to a reasonable standard for apology.

We need it because on "Autism" sites Autistics who criticize experts' behavior are chided and told to shut up, that our opinions do not matter.

We need it because in the name of social skills training, young Autistics are regularly taught communication scripts that will not help them in bullying situations, or in real communication with their peers.

We need it because abuse is still used as a regular part of "education" or "therapy" in too many institutions.

We need it because PT Barnum was right - there is a sucker born any minute - and Autistics are being harmed by entrepreneurs becoming rich peddling snake-oil cures that are toxic, or in other ways present a danger to us or to the community.

We need it because Autistic people are still dying at the hands of those who are "caregivers", paid and unpaid.

We need it because we are not all Temple Grandin and making comparisons or assumptions that we are or should be is fair neither to her nor to the rest of us.

We need it because outcomes for Autistics are almost entirely based upon social and economic class.

We need it because there are still rampant discrimination against Autistics in the workforce and insufficient safety net for most of  us to live safely with adequate food, shelter, medical and dental care.

We need it because the Autism conversation continues to be, in large measure, paternalistic, one-way, and non-inclusive.

And we will need it until we are recognized as human beings and the experts on ourselves, and there  are adequate supports for us to live productive, independent lives, with dignity and  respect.

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