I was going to write the C post on cats but maybe, just maybe, there are more pressing matters than my extreme love of kitties. Maybe, that thing is consent.
Consent came to me as a topic because yesterday, I was- with the permission of my “victims”- sending out “Life Threats.” What’s a Life Threat? Well, it’s something that I, a complete and utter nerd, have created to address the fact that people send autistic activists Death Threats. Life Threats are phrased like Death Threats (or, well, as far as I know- I’ve been lucky enough to never experience them first hand) but they threaten to make you happy or do nice things for you. And the most important aspect of a Life Threat: Consent. Consent in two ways.
The first way consent applies to a Life Threat is through asking people before you send them one. While it may be funny for some people to get a random message saying you’re gonna bring them a really cute puppy to pet, others may be startled by a random message that’s full of capslock and starts off with “I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU EVER…” even if it does continue into “…DO A REALLY NICE THING FOR ME AGAIN, I’LL SEND YOU SOME REALLY PRETTY FLOWERS IN THE MAIL. BUT ONLY IF YOU’RE NOT ALLERGIC AND YOU SAY IT’S OKAY. DAMMIT.” Besides, almost a central tenet of death threats is that nobody asks for them and that’s what makes them creepy (amongst other things. Many other things). As such, a life threat must involve consent in the delivery!
You’ll also notice that I specified that I’d only send the person in question flowers if they were not allergic and if they consented to it. That’s important too. While I have no intentions of acting on any of my Life Threats (I promised one friend Taylor Swift), it’s important when telling someone you want to make them happy that you only want to do so in a way that they’re comfortable.
Which brings me to what this has to do with autism.
Autism cures and treatments practically rely on violating consent and bodily autonomy. ABA tells children they can’t say no to adults (you HAVE to make eye contact. You HAVE To hug your Aunt Cheryl), they can only do the behaviors that are acceptable. Every other so-called cure… well, whether it’s refusing vaccines (putting your child at risk for whooping cough without their input) or any of the potential deadly cures for autism, the point is that curing autism comes before asking the child what they actually want. And yet, it’s said to be done in the name of help. But because the child’s emotions aren’t being considered… help for who?
There’s also how parents like to post secret details of their child’s life in public spaces. Again, no consent. That child will one day grow up, and when they do they’ll have embarrassing info posted all over facebook. Info they never consented to have put up.
Of course, there are death threats. Nobody consents to a death threat.
So what’s the perfect response to this culture of non-consent? Of hating autism?
The response is loving autism consensually. For me, that’s through Life Threats. And other things, but right now… Life Threats are giving me, well, Life.