Friday, November 4, 2022

Who Speaks for Us?

 David Cameron Staples (Catsidhe) sents us Who Speaks For Us? on Dreamwidth

Trigger Warning for mentions of the Judge Rotenburg Center, Autism Speaks, and related policies.

It is the second of November as I write this, because of course it is. So... I apologise for not leaving myself time to make this shorter.

Or to the point, whatever that point is. (Edit: I've figure out what the point is, and removed a half-dozen side tracks. For future reference, they included

  • How closely do ADHD and Autism overlap? How many of the understood common symptoms of one are actually symptoms of the other? Can a symptom be common, but show up in different ways depending? Can one have both versions? Oh wow, I'm almost writing that essay just in the asking of the questions.
  • What does "Neurodiverse" mean anyway, and who is included within it?
  • Are there Neurodivergent conditions which aren't inherently disabling? (I'm thinking especially of Synesthesia.)
  • What does "Disability" even mean?

So. Anyway. Incipit:

Who speaks for us?

In the beginning there was Autism.

Then Asperger's Syndrome was discovered, and it was technically a different thing.

And that's the first complication, because that division created a barrier between autists.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Wibbly Wobbly Thoughts

 Corina Becker writes Wibbly Wobbly Thoughts on No Stereotypes Here

I started writing this for ASDay 2021. I got mostly done and then lost my train of thought. Picking it again for ASDay 2022.

I keep trying to come up with something to write about, and I start down a good idea, and then get distracted or the inspiration fizzles out. Sometimes I feel despair, because a lot of the topics that come up are the same topics I've written about years ago. Sure, I could write about the exact circumstances of the issue, how it affects people. Use my hard-earned degree to form some sort of argument. But I also just want to write about other things. 

I started to write an open letter to my government about how the pandemic has impacted me, specifically financially. It was going to be an anecdote to support the argument for Universal Basic Income. I was going to compare my life before the pandemic, and now, with how instead of worrying about support coming in from different areas with amounts that adjust from week to week, I can make financial decisions and be confident about being able to afford basic needs and make financial decisions about repairing or replacing items, about being able to take time off work when sick or injured. Because I'm currently on unemployment, and that pays more than ODSP and my job. 

However, I also wanted to write about corsets, and history bounding. The other year, I wrote my thesis about accessibility at autism conferences, and then I went to a costuming convention where a lot of the attendees were disabled. 'If only I had known sooner,' I thought. 'Writing about disability in costuming would be fascinating!' 

I got into corsets from a friend I met at an autism conference; they were wearing a corset and describing how it felt like a calming hug. A personalized weighted blanket. Over the years, I explored mass-produced corsets available online, and determined I needed to make my own. It would also be handy to wear to the LARP I had joined. And so, I dived into the world of historical sewing. 

Which lead me to this convention and the realization that I don't really like modern clothing. The hems, the fabrics, the fit. It has been revolutionary for me to relearn sewing and attempt to sew my own clothing. Clothes should not feel like something to tolerate, but provide comfort and ease. If I must dress myself in clothing made from bed sheets in order to do so, then so be it.

And at the same time, I want to talk about stories. About how research can be used to tell stories. How research can be used to tell stories through data. There's a tendency to respond "well duh" to some studies, and I think that is a disservice to both the autistic community and researchers. Yes, we write stories and blog about issues. But studies take our stories and combine them. By combining our stories and codifying, it says "this isn't just a few people, this is a wider issue."

And I want to talk about my thesis, a learning experience I treasure. How it sparked for me an interest in research and the possibility of further studies. How I want to connect what I've spent all these years studying to my communities, as tools to our causes and needs.

I want to talk about my new kitten, Ezra, and the joy he gives me. Especially when he's being sweet and cuddly. 

I want to talk about the sudden loss of spoons, the desire to do something but being unable to start or complete the action. The need to write something, anything, only to feel the spark fizzle out at an empty screen. The despair as idea piles upon idea, building up to an aching pressure.

I want to talk about pain. The sharp stabs and the deep aches that become constant companions. The pains that are temporary, the pains that are chronic, and the pains that very slowly heal. 

And finally, I want to talk about perseverance. Whether through hope or spite, the importance of continuing on. To do what you can, when you can, however you do it. How I'm learning to forgive myself for taking time, as I forgive others. To recognize my own limits, as I recognize the same for others. To pause and rest when I need it, and to take my time recharging. To let myself fall apart. To let myself put myself back together at my own speed. 

To let myself enjoy things. 

And, when I'm ready, to write again. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Autistics Speaking Day Demonstrates what "Nothing About us Without Us" Actually Means

 Ira Eidle posts "Autistics Speaking Day Demonstrates what "Nothing About us Without Us" Actually Means" on History of the Neurodiversity Movement at Autistic Archive

Autistics Speaking Day is a perfect example of what the term “Nothing About Us Without Us” actually means. An Australia-based organization called the AEIOU Foundation proposed a “communication shutdown” on November 1st, 2010 to represent the supposed frustration autistic people face with communication. This meant spending an entire day off of social media. Autistic people found out about this, and found it to be very patronizing and missing the mark.

As you’ve seen, autistic people tend to find the internet to be a bastion of communication and comradery, a lifeline, even. Two autistics in particular, Corina Becker and Kat Bjørnstad, decided to take action and form a blog. They reclaimed the day to showcase the writings of autistic people. They also wanted to take a jab at Autism Speaks’s name, so it was titled “Autistics Speaking Day”. It’s now observed on November 1st every year.

Let me explain what “Nothing About Us Without Us” actually means. Many people do not seem to understand that. It was a term first used in Hungarian Labor organizing, then again in South African Apartheid protests, and eventually as part of the Disability Rights Movement. It is also ASAN’s slogan. What it does mean is that nothing about a group of people, in this case people with disabilities, should be done without their meaningful leadership. What it does not mean is that people with disabilities literally have to be involved with everything disability-related, including things where they are not in charge and are instead used as tokens.

People use “Nothing About Us Without Us” to justify working with harmful organizations, because they think the statement means they need to be at the table all the time with everything. In an ideal world, yes, this would be the case. But the reality is that many times, when we’re invited to the table, we get nothing but scraps. That is not meaningful inclusion nor leadership, and thus, it is not consistent with “Nothing About Us Without Us”. It also means when something is not done with meaningful inclusion, that the people the cause is about will speak up about it, even if they aren’t at the table. Especially if they aren’t, in fact.

In this case, Corina and Kat didn’t need to join the AEIOU Foundation’s leadership to enact the change they wanted from within. Instead, they formed their own thing where they were in charge and gave a mic to other autistic people. “Nothing About Us Without Us” is inherently a saying of protest, of revolution, and working from within is not protest. It doesn’t mean never try negotiations, just that negotiations are not required for it to be true.

Autistic for Life

 Christiana J. MacLeod writes Autistic for Life on The Autyssey

Trigger warning for mentions of bullying, police brutality, and suicide

…is an all-too-common response from a parent when an autistic adult shares their journey on social media. Can sometimes include such indictments as “you’re not SEVERELY autistic, you can use social media, you can speak, you’re not autistic at all” ad nauseam.

Well… no, quite right, I’m not like your child. I will quote no Nazi eugenicists and call no kettles black, but no two autistic people, child or adult, are exactly alike. So what if #ActuallyAutistic adults aren’t like #autistic kids? We’re still autistic, years be damned, but we have different challenges in adulthood than we do in childhood. And if we’re gonna be totally honest… among those challenges is just staying alive while the rest of the world continues to pick on us. And make no mistake — it IS a challenge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Saturday, October 15, 2022

ASDay 2022!!!

Another year, another Autistics Speaking Day!!

November 1st, instead of being quiet online, be loud!

Submission form: follow this link!