Hear Us, Accept Us! #AutismAcceptance2017

In a week and a half it will be Autism Acceptance Month. Yes, I say Acceptance, not Awareness. That’s important. Anybody can be aware of autism but accepting it? That takes effort. Effort that a lot of people show no willingness to make.

Another year passed. More autistic kids dead, abused, at risk. Where’s the awareness of this: this is the real tragedy of autism. We’re ignored. Ignored when we try to speak out against the people who make pretty for the cameras while they tell the world how broken we are.

Ignored when we call for justice after another one of us is murdered and the media focuses yet again on excusing the parents and care-givers because autistic lives are a burden and death is a release, don’t you know?

Ignored when we campaign against unproven and often harmful chemicals and “treatments” such as GcMAF and MMS pushed as cures by charlatans on unsuspecting and easily-misled parents of autistic children who are told time and again that autism is a disease and their children are damaged.

Ignored when those of us who have been through it tell you ABA–in any form–is abusive, coercive enforced compliance to arbitrary “neurotypical” standards of behaviour, where the only goal is to force us to appear indistinguishable at any cost to our long-term mental health.

Ignored when we tell people that we are not “vaccine damaged”: autism is genetic and we are autistic from birth. And still delusional conspiracy theorists like Polly Tommey, Andrew Wakefield, Robert Kennedy Jr.–even Robert De Niro–refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence and insist that we throw more millions of dollars away instead of using that to help autistic kids today.

Ignored when we tell you that autism charities and organisations like Autism Speaks don’t represent us, don’t make our lives better, don’t listen when we tell them what we need. They don’t speak for us; they speak for themselves. They dismiss us, discredit us, portray us as not competent to participate in decisions affecting us directly.

This is why awareness will not do. It doesn’t even come close. We aren’t given a voice, we aren’t heard. All these people, the high-profile “allies” and “autism parents”, people like Anna Kennedy and Bob Wright have something in common: they are not autistic. They are outsiders who can never fully understand how we experience the world.

So why are they the ones who get to tell our stories, over and over? Where are our own autistic voices? With a mere handful of exceptions we are, like me, writing blogs for a few hundred readers, most of whom are also autistic. We’re preaching to the choir.

So if you really want to make a difference to autistic people, go and look for our stories. Read about our lives and experiences. Tell all your friends. And perhaps then we will have a chance to be understood and accepted. And we might one day get the same chances and rights other people take for granted.

Autistic Rights, Not Autistic Wrongs

Hey Mrs Kennedy
There with your OBE
Your shiny charity?
You ain’t that much to me.

If you read what I wrote
You wanna make a note
Don’t sit up there and gloat
You gonna miss the boat.

See what I’m tellin’ you
Ain’t just my point of view
We’re more than one or two
Autistic through and through.

So listen when we say
Your spiel has had its day
We’re dissin’ ABA
Abuse is not okay.

We spotted Wakefield ties
And anti-vaccine lies
You hung out with those guys
Now that ain’t very wise.

We followed all the tracks
Led us to frauds and quacks
We’re threatened with attacks
But we got stacks of facts.

We offered you advice
We tried to play it nice
We thought that would suffice
Won’t make that error twice.

You think we’ve had enough?
You think we’re not so tough?
We live and breathe this stuff
Don’t want to call our bluff.

When you don’t give respect
When you try to deflect
And posture for effect
Twist truth and misdirect.

You pick on one of us
Insult but won’t discuss
You are superfluous
Not even worth the fuss.

You claim that you’re “aware”
But show that you don’t care
We will be treated fair
In schools and everywhere.

To mimic NT poise
Under duress destroys
Autistic girls and boys.
We’re not your little toys.

Don’t want our names in lights
Or fancy ballgown nights
One goal in all our fights
We want autistic rights.

A Letter To Autism Parents

Too many parents of autistic children look at actually-autistic advocates and dismiss us. “Not like my child.” Maybe not on the surface, not today, but we were all children once. And you don’t know what we experienced growing up.

That’s the point, you see. If you’re not autistic you can’t put yourself in the place of someone who is. Empathy doesn’t work with people whose brains behave in different ways. Who experience the world so differently from you.

We who are autistic know this. How could we not? It’s been our daily experience throughout our whole lives. We understand your child because so many autistic experiences are relatable to us all.

What you see in us, the ones who step up and try to educate you about autism, is the culmination of years of practice and learning. Years of experience of simply existing as autistic in a neurotypical world. We weren’t born fully-formed as advocates. We have taken on that role because we feel a kinship with other autistic people. We know how it feels to grow up autistic. We remember the things that would have made our lives better and we try to provide them for those who are growing up autistic today.

We’re not in it for ourselves. And we’re not here for you so much as for your child. Our aim is not necessarily to make your life easier (although that can be a welcome side-effect). No, we share our hard-won experience and insight so that your child can have a better life through being better understood and accepted.

So when you as a parent see advice from actually-autistic people, instead of thinking that your child could never hope to achieve what you see in us and dismissing what we say, start believing that the potential exists inside them.

Because when you stop thinking of your child as a tragedy, as lost opportunities, as damaged, and start thinking of them as a whole person, complete, you will lift them to greater things than you imagined when you first heard that diagnosis.

Autism is not a curse, it is not a blessing. It simply is. We’re different but we’re all human beings with similar feelings, hopes, fears, dreams and desires. As autistic people we don’t get as many opportunities in life. You can help change that, you can help us gain acceptance. You can help us achieve our full potential.

We advocate. We do what we can so that the experiences and challenges of being autistic are explained and can be more widely recognised and understood. The rest is up to you. If you want your child to be understood and accepted, that starts with you. Please don’t let us down. Don’t let your child down.