We’re people with autism. We need cures. We are all little boys. We’re terrors. With a disorder. A deviance. A disease. We have no empathy, we have no worth, we’re burdens, we’re an epidemic.
No! We say, we are Autistic people! We are boys and girls and men and women and enbies. We’re artists and dancers and engineers and writers and marine biologists. We’re neurodivergent and hyperempathetic and so, so valuable. And we don’t need a cure. We don’t want a cure.
That narrative, that second one, was stolen from us. It was replaced with that hollow one, that toxic one, that first one.
We get told through no uncertain terms and implicit messages that our story doesn’t matter. Not when there’s the story of our parents, of caregivers, of service workers. When I say “Autistic!” and Disability Services says “People with Autism!” the voice of the non-autistic is always louder. The voice of the real, official people.
Why do they get to speak over us? How come, when I’m sitting across from someone, they look over my head to the Official Body that says my identity is not my own?
Sigh. I’ll dump the metaphorical for now. What I’m saying is… okay, let me break this down. In a perfect world, you could call me Autistic or Person with Autism or Autist or whatever. But in the real world, Autistic is what we chose for ourselves, Person with Autism is what was chosen for us largely by those oppressing us. When you favor Person with Autism, you are favoring the Allowed, Parent/Caregiver/Worker Narrative over our Stolen Narrative. You are privileging people who are not us, over us, on our own issues.
And honestly I don’t care how great or progressive your work on us is, if you’re letting someone else name us you are not working for us.