(This is part of the “Autism Speaks, I Want To Say…” flashblog; click the link for more information.)
As Twitter-using feminists will no doubt be aware after the last few days, all too often there’s a double standard surrounding prejudice, hate and falsehoods – namely, that dominant groups can spread it (inadvertently or otherwise) as far as they like for as long as they like, but when the victims of this call it out, suddenly they’re the ones being hateful. And this double standard is as present in the autism community as it is everywhere else.
As summed up here by the brilliant Amy Sequenzia, the current conversation about (and usually not with autistic people) can be incredibly hurtful. It can feel like a constant attack. But when we point this out, we’re doing the “attacking”. We’re told we’re wrecking the “united voice” that’s usually just the voice of groups like Autism Speaks who refuse to listen to autistic people. (I wrote about silencing and unity last week and whilst it focuses on feminism due to the nature of this blog, I did have the neurodiversity movement in mind toward the end of that post.) We’re silenced by functioning labels – as summed up in this Tumblr post by Crown-Of-Weeds, we’re either too “high-functioning” to know what we’re talking about, or too “low-functioning” to be worth listening to (which, if it isn’t clear enough already, is unbelievably ableist). And when autistic people create change, we’re erased from our own activism; for example, as reported in detail here by Michael Scott Monje Jr., Autism Speaks reported the removal of offensive Google autocomplete terms about autism without as much as a mention for the autism flashblogs that demanded this (Autistic People Should and Autistic People Are – unfortunately I was unable to participate in these) or any credit for the person who led the campaign, Alyssa of Yes, That Too.
Those of us on the spectrum really shouldn’t have to fight through a million-and-one barriers like this just to be heard in the conversation about our own lives. In short, nothing about us without us. Thanks to flashblogs like this, autistic people across the spectrum are speaking out. Now all we need is for people to actually listen.