Monday, November 18, 2013

#ThisIsAutism: What did you think I'd say?

Written by Sharon

Originally posted at Speaknots


Fighting Stereotypes, daily.

Seeing beautiful patterns everywhere I look.

Fighting against privilege on a level that encapsulates my life on at least three separate intersections.

Autistic parenting. (typing that one again, because it makes me smile.) Autistic parenting.


What day are we talking about? Yesterday I struggled to find words that matched my thoughts, so I stopped speaking mid-morning.

Internalized ableism.

Today, I've juggled work, college, public transportation, a stranger screaming at me for five minutes, because I didn't verbally express “excuse me” when I tripped over their bag; though I managed to gesture an apology using ASL.

I wanted, and had planned a specific kind of blog post for this flashblog, but I’m going to be content with the few lines I put together.

If any of the flashblog readers take away only one message from the meaning of #ThisIsAutism, I hope it’s this:
  • Autism and Autistic Activists are constantly mischaracterized. It happens because of functioning labels like high-functioning and low-functioning.
  • It happens because organizations like Autism Speaks have dominated the autism conversation with preying upon parent fears and pity-marketing.
  • Autism Speaks’ history is steeped in a strategy that plays upon parent fears and seeking donations based on framing Autistic lives and our families as pitiful and nit worth living. It causes Autistics and our families to be devalued. It’s no doubt a leading cause of parents who kill their Autistic children.
In closing, I’m including a copy of the comment I posted last week regarding Suzanne Wright’s article about the event Autism Speaks hosted in Washington DC which excluded Autistic/Disability Rights Activists. It touches on a bit more than what I have words for today.

Autism Speaks’ Suzanne Wright's language choice in her op-ed was a deliberate stab at Autistic Activists. She understands quite well that Autism Speaks continually experiences PR nightmares and their harshest criticism over their "kidnapping & epidemic" campaigns; yet she made sure to drench her writing on the same pattern of negativity which she knows full well is offensive to the Autistic community. 
What does that say about a person and their organization when they purposefully target Autistic people with insults?
Don’t underestimate the impact of John Elder Robison’s resignation. John commented yesterday that he was having difficulty with people celebrating and rejoicing over his decision to leave Autism Speaks. I believe he might misinterpret why Activists are ecstatic over what he experiences as profound disappointment.

From the vantage point of Autistic/Disability Rights Activists, we have had John’s involvement with Autism Speaks thrown in our face, and used against us as if we are the cause of the continued divisions within our community, because we will not concede to joining forces with an organization which we understand to have blood on their hands.
I don’t consider it a far stretch to state emphatically that now is not the time to get complacent. A steady approach to holding Autism Speaks accountable for their unethical practices and continued attacks on the Autistic community is vital.

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