Sometimes I read something and I am completely overwhelmed by the weight and content of the words. Yesterday I read this – written by Kate. It’s entitled Scarred. It was posted on The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. I am including just the first few sentences. Please click on the link to read it in it’s entirety. This piece needs to be read – by every parent, every school, every “specialist,” every researcher, everyone and anyone who every comes into contact with anyone, ever, on the spectrum.
We are scarred, we adults on the spectrum.
We are scarred, both inside and out.
Our lives are twisted paths littered with diagnoses. We have fought for years to get to where we are now, and still it isn’t good enough.
We are scarred.”
Autism is a human rights issue. We must begin thinking of it this way. We are condemning a group of people, treating them worse than we treat convicted felons, murderers, rapists, psychopaths. We must stop. We must stop the way we think about Autism. We must stop the way we think of Autistics. We must stop oversimplifying, we must stop applying our Neurotypical thought processes to Autistic people. We must stop with our assumptions. And the only way we are going to stop is by LISTENING! We must, every single one of us, listen to those on the spectrum who are communicating and we must put aside our “but my child can’t talk, therefore this person isn’t like my child” or “this person must be high functioning and therefore doesn’t know what it’s like for me and my child” or “my child is in diapers and is nonverbal and therefore this other Autistic person has nothing of any importance to say to me” or “I can’t hear this person, they’re too angry.”
We must stop speaking for Autistics. We must stop arguing about semantics. We must stop and hear the pain our misinformation and misperceptions are causing. We must stop and listen. Listen to what we, as a society, are doing. Listen to what Kate and so many others are saying. A group of people are being abused, shamed, yelled at, blamed, talked about, treated with contempt by schools, specialists, doctors, teachers, organizations carrying the word “autism” in it’s name, parents, siblings, cousins, society, the world. We are arguing over wording. We are bristling at the word Neurodiversity, we are shouting at one another, but shouldn’t we start listening to those who we are all supposedly wanting to help? Isn’t it condescending of us to pretend to care about autism and yet make excuses as to why what so many of them are saying shouldn’t be listened to? I hear people say, well that person is too angry, therefore, what? Therefore their voice is invalid? Really? Do we really believe that when someone is saying something we agree with and want to hear? Isn’t it that we don’t like it when someone is saying something that goes against what we think or believe?
Can we all try harder to look at what we’re doing when we try to silence those who are speaking out. Do you think so many would be so angry if they felt they were being heard, that what they had to say was having an impact? Hasn’t every movement had voices of anger as well as those who tried to be civil? Don’t we need both? Do you think they would be shouting if they didn’t feel ignored, condemned, brutalized? Many Autistics are angry? Yes. Why wouldn’t they be?
Autism is a human rights issue that has been sadly overlooked. That has to change.
I know, I know. I just went on a rant. I’m taking a deep breath…
Autism can look like this… (2002)
and like this… (2003)
and this… (2004)
and this, too… (2012)