Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shared and Different Voices

Jodie Gray writes "Shared and Different Voices". Trigger Warnings for abuse.

When I first found out about an autistic community made of Autistics adults, children, and teenagers who were actively involved in speaking for themselves and about their own lives - I was thrilled. I thought that this community held very many similar beliefs with each other, that the community was good and supported each other. I must admit that at this early time perhaps I even held a false truth that all autistics were great people. I mean I knew that Autistic people spoke in different ways- sign language, body movements, writing, typing, screaming, singing, talking, and others. I knew autistic people came from all different racial back grounds, and of all different religious beliefs. I believed out of some false hope that this community was without fault, and with acceptance for everyone in it.

When I was a teenager and first started taking to and meeting other Autistic teen and adults – I noticed the similarities and ignored the differences. I understood that Autistic people were more likely to be abused by others, but I also largely ignored that autistic people can also abuse others. Autistics can abuse themselves, Autistics can abuse others in their community. My then held illusion of perfection and being beyond challenging is now gone. I no longer believe that we're somehow beyond the challenges of all other people. We hurt others, we our hurt by others- both inside and outside of the autistic community. Sometimes we're accepting of some people, but not of some others.

In a world that already often silences people with disabilities from speaking about themselves- I feel that it's important we don't silence others ourselves. By all means- we shouldn't tolerate abuse or injustice from other people. I also will admit- I expect people who are for Neurodiversity to oppose a “cure” outlook on autism. Additionally, I believe that these people should oppose abusive and unsafe treatments. However, beyond those and a few other basic core ideas that I think it's important to drop other limitations to what it means to be autistic or an ally.

Most of the Autistic adults I know are agnostic or liberal Christian, and they vote democratically. These things should not be a requirement to be included in the community. Unfortunately - at times I've felt like these were almost requirements of being an Autistic adult, and should you disagree- you can find another community. I sincerely hope that this is not what the Autistic community becomes. I'd like to see a group of people who can support each other and unite in times of injustice, or when someone just needs somebody else to listen.

Autistics speak and it's time to listen. Let's try to listen to all of them- even if they vote differently (or not at all). I'm excited and enthusiastic about talking to other Autistics - especially the ones who have very different struggles and beliefs from that of the core majority of Autistics, and my own.

I want to know what other Autistics adults care about and how they think we can help bring about change in the worldwide outlook on autism.

I look forward to a day where a larger number of Autistics of all backgrounds are participating in Autistics Speaking Day. I'd like for people to know that Autistics are a diverse people even though they share some common features.

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