What follows is a comment I made on a blog. In my usual way I got to the end and then thought hmm that’s long enough to be a blog post so for once I am going to actually post what I said. I apologize to regular readers as it is repetitive of things I have said here in the past. My opinion of this group has not altered much since their founding.
I didn’t want to ignore what went on today as far as either their attempt to further monopolize the debate or on a much happier note my autistic peers rallying to oppose them. Perhaps if Voldemort Speaks didn’t so totally dismiss autistics they might have wondered about the wisdom of meeting the night after the Autistic Self Advocacy Networks gala. They were concerned enough to bring it the DC chief of police the night before but he thankfully was not one who shared a vision of what is in the US a constitutional right of freedom and assembly being violated.
20 years ago I hoped that the internet would improve the whole experience of autism for the next generation of autistics. It has. My own ambitions for it back then were small. I hoped it would be less lonely, that people would know the joy of being with like minded people and so on. That a protest could be put together pretty fast and celebrated the world over was not even on my wish list. A huge thank you to those who spent precious energy and coping skills to put it together, to anticipate obstacles, and to be there.
Thanks also to every parent ally who cheered not only the protestors on but many autistic voices out there.
So on to my comment I guess. I could have written something fresh but my comment was more than long enough. I suppose I seldom make brief ones.:
My own experiences with my own autism have been no picnic. I don’t really believe in high and low functioning because depending when in my life people were deciding that I have been all over the place and I know I am not alone in that. Things looked bleak for quite awhile then better then bleak and repeat.
I don’t question for a moment the anguish my own mother felt throughout my lifespan. That would have been the case though if I were typical as well. The only real difference is since I wasn’t there were no shortage of people painting out my life in broad brush strokes. No one would have tried that for my siblings.
I had a lot of trouble actually accepting my autism since it was until my arthritis got worse pretty well the only thing I couldn’t just triumph over by sheer force of will. I thought of it in pretty much those terms for way too long. Even when I went with the Star Trek model of being like Data it was unhealthy as didn’t have some of Data’s options including being in a mostly utopian environment where everyone but Data isn’t all that bothered by the fact he is an android. I thought my programming too would be outgrown. It’s embarrassing to say but I carried on thinking that despite a degree in psych from the university rated as Canada’s best and a solid understanding of autism as it didn’t pertain to me. I don’t know why I did. I had enough knowledge to question only the notion that it could be cured. I knew that for anything labelled as pervasive seated in the brain there simply is no such, meaningful thing.
So even at my own most self-loathing I did know that the notion of loving the child but not the autism was pure bull tweet and no good would come of any approach where people cling to that. I recall so well hearing things said I should never have heard because people dismissed me. Of course that trend persists even now as my stress related loss of speech shows me over and over how much people confuse possessing the ability with intelligence.
Things have been harder than I would like for almost two years straight now. Hard enough to have me in tears of frustration. Hard enough for the issue of whether I should be in a home again to come up but does someone get to pretty well state I am somehow equal to a natural disaster because I cost a lot? No.
For 24 years I was reminded in my work about how often the default narrative seems to be to describe any child in terms of what they cannot do. When the child has a disability there is an alarming tendency for someone, usually a well payed someone, to make what amount to total guesses about what this kid will ever do.
Voldemort Speaks (not going to depart from my long held tradition of not giving them free publicity) has a monetary interest in painting the bleakest possible view. They’ve used every tactic they can think of too exclude actual autistic voices from that the picture they are painting. In recent years they have taken to buying autistics they seem to view as tame enough to say what they want them to say but even that is not working for them.
If there is a need for centralized fundraising then why not do it in a manner that is respectful and doesn’t question any humans right to exist? Why not do it in ways that are actually educational? Right now they are the number one source of bleakness. I have seen my parent friends in tears often enough from sheer exhaustion to know more doom is not needed.
I had a herculean task yesterday. That task was simply tolerating noise and lights long enough to buy four items so I didn’t starve to death before Friday. Sadly that’s not at all hyperbolic. More services are absolutely needed. Treatment is not something I oppose as long as no one is confused about what needs treating. Respite I am 100 percent behind. It would be a sad state of affairs though if we had to subscribe to the Voldemort Speaks vision to get anything. Oh wait since these sort of direct services are still neither a priority nor a huge budget line item even if we totally buy it in every way we don’t have much to gain and our collective humanity to lose.