Sunday, November 1, 2020

#AutisticsSpeakingDay - Autistics Speaking in 2020

 Jane Strauss posts from Facebook

Content Warning for mentions of politics

#AutisticsSpeakingDay - Autistics Speaking in 2020

For years, one of my “Autistic Superpowers” has been my ability to tell when people are lying, or in some way out to screw others. Often NTs were upset by this, because I'd directly point out my observation, Almost thirty years ago my track record at this got me the “Ignore me at your peril” award from a community organization in which I had been involved for some years.

Four years ago, I covered political rallies in Iowa for the previous Presidential election cycle. One Trump rally was all it took for me to see the patterns in his thinking and behavior and compare the situation to 1932 Germany. I was called an alarmist. This could not happen here. And here we are, four years later, sadder and some of us wiser.

Why did I start with this? Because on this Autistics Speaking Day the world is in serious crisis, a crisis that has been building for 4 years. There is a world-wide pandemic, of an illness whose most severe manifestations are likely related to Mast Cell issues, more common in people with ASD and connective tissue disorders which often co-occur with them than in the general population.

The Constitutional crisis in the US is worse yet. BIPOC, disabled folks, religious minorities are in serious jeopardy, many for our very lives, from the prevailing attitudes of the ruling party and many of its adherents. There is a serious lack of civility in public life. Threats of civil unrest or even war hang in the air. An impending election may either sound the death knell or the resurrection of the American ideal.

And in the midst of this – ever more reasons exist why Autistics must speak, and speak plainly. Our logic, when not curbed by anxiety, is needed as a counterpoint to wishful thinking, magical thinking. Our stims and strong interests provide an escape from paralyzing fear. In the past year or so, political and issue leaders such as Greta Thunberg have risen from our midst. Academics are beginning to realize that autistic people have great skills for leadership, and in retrospect even more changemakers are now considered to have been autistic.

We still have far to go. Just yesterday yet another “Autism mom” not herself on the spectrum put a poll about what to call her “new blog about autistic women and girls” (ahem) on a local Facebook page. She was surprised when a number of autistic women, followed by allies, pointed out her idea to be late, and probably inappropriate. Ten years ago, the outcry would have been much less and the support from Neurotypical allies less forthcoming.

Will Autistics Speak in 2021? How many will we lose to the COVID pandemic? What changes will be wrought in our community, if any, after the coming US election? For the future, there are only questions.

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