A Message to Certain Autistics

A message to those of you who like puzzle pieces. Who identify with puzzle pieces. You are not a puzzle. You are a full person who is not missing pieces. You can say that you just find the puzzle cute; I can tell you that a history of dehumanization is not cute.

To those of you who think Autism Speaks is okay. That they are your friend. They are not your friend. They are trying to end you, they want to cure you, and they want to profit off of the suffering they inflict upon you. The last thing they want in the world is *you*

To those of you who use functioning labels. You want to differentiate yourself from the “other.” You want to make everyone know that you’re different from the bad Autistics, that you’re one of the higher level Autistics. Maybe you just want precision. Well, you’re being more imprecise with your labeling of people in binary high/low sense. And there is not a meaningful distinction between all “low” and all “high” Autistics, and many of us can be both at different times. We are all siblings on the Autistic spectrum, we don’t need to divide ourselves.

And a message to those of you who are okay with person-first language. Maybe it just looks better grammatically to you. Maybe you just lack a preference. But “Person with Autism” are not our words. They are the words of people who want to take the Autism out of the person, who can’t see a person if they see Autistic first. They are the words of accommodation offices and bureaucracies that want to appeal to parents. They are the words of parents. They are not the words of us, Autistic People.

So yeah. I’ve noticed these problems all over, primarily by new-to-the-culture autistics, and I think we need to sort them out. Playing with the tools of our enemy gives them legitimacy, and it’s not okay.

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A – Z of Autism 2017: D is for Danger

Being an advocate is scary.

Sometimes it’s dangerous.

Yesterday  I had to disrupt a panel about Autism that lacked any Autistic people.

I had the danger response. I had the shaking and the stuttering and the wanting to run and cry but I stood and I fought against something that was dangerous to my community. Something that, as the case is every day in April, would spread misinformation and fear and make people want us dead.

But I spoke up. And I’m working to fix it. Because I refused to believe that there was no danger in talking about Autistic people without us. I refused to believe it would be okay if I said nothing.

The world is a dangerous place for an advocate. It’s scary. But we can make it less dangerous.

A – Z of Autism 2017: C is for “Cruel”

ABA is so kind. It’s doing such a service. It’s the only compassionate option for those defective, damaged creatures…

“That’s cruel. ABA is cruel.”

Compassion! The only option! It’s not like that!

“Yes it is and it’s cruel. You can’t dog train a child into being something they’re not.”

So you want them to be a damaged human being?

“No, because they’re not, and insisting they are is cruel.”

Well I don’t care.

“Shove it up your ass, then, if you don’t care that you’re abusing children.”

Oooh, who’s being cruel now? To me?

“You want to see cruel? I could tell you you’re a glorified conversion therapist working on an even more marginalized population. I could tell you you’re a circus animal trainer who works on humans to make them jump through flaming hoops, who doesn’t even care when they get burned. I could tell you that you’re a PTSD-vendor, a trauma-trigger, an abuse machine, a suicide pusher.

“I could be nicer. I could tell you that you’re just ignorant, willfully so even, about the harm you’re doing. I could tell you that if you didn’t see the harm you were doing you either weren’t looking or couldn’t understand because you couldn’t see the subject as human. I could tell you that you’ve been fooled to be a servant of people with evil agendas and you’re one of those folks just doing their job.

“I could tell you that your job is to break people. Real people. You take a hammer to the perfectly fine Autistic exterior and try to break it apart to find the real person inside. But you find nothing but a shattered child, because the real person is lying in pieces on the floor.

“I could tell you all of that. I could tell you you hurt people. That you break people. That you’re a monster.

“But you’d just call me cruel.

“Or maybe you’re looking in a mirror.”

A – Z of Autism 2017: B is for “But Why?”

“But why can’t we Light it up Blue?”

Because Light it Up Blue is a campaign by Autism Speaks, an anti-autistic group that only chose the color blue to reinforce the idea that boys are the Real Autistics.

“But why is Autism Speaks bad?”

Because they only just got Autistic people on their board. Because they want to cure Autism, even if they’ve stopped saying it outright.

“But why don’t you want us to cure People With Autism?”

Because Autistic People, like myself, don’t want to be cured.

“But why can’t the ones who are worse off be cured?”

There are no worse Autistics.

“But why can’t we cure them?”

Because if you removed the Autism there would be nothing left.

“But why can’t I just make them normal?”

Where would the normal come from? Conversion therapy doesn’t work.

“But why can’t we use ABA?”

I just said, conversion therapy doesn’t work.

“But why not?”

Because it hurts the person its applied to and all you get it a traumatized Autistic that can play “normal”.

“But why is that bad?”

There we go.

A – Z of Autism: A is for Anger

Warning: Post contains mention of child murder and suicide, including graphic talk

You say I don’t want to be cured because I’m “high functioning”

But Autism is the core of me, and you think I’m less autistic than the norm. So how integral does that make autism to those who present it more profoundly?
 
The answer is even more core. If it’s even possible to be more and less Autistic (it’s not), then surely for those who are supposedly more profoundly autistic would have Autism even more tightly ingrained in their being.
 
So if you want to cure those people? The people who are intrinsically linked to being Autistic, potentially more than your average person? What do you think will be left?
 
There is no neurotypical child hiding beneath a sheltering Autism tree. Were you to chop down that tree because you can’t accept it, all that you’d leave behind would be a stump. A dead stump. You would have killed it.
 
But we know you know that. There’s a reason we have a day of mourning for disabled people killed by their caregivers.
 
You don’t think we can become Allistic.
 
You just want the Autistic us gone, and murder works.
 
Neglect works.
 
Alternative medicine works.
 
Applied hard enough, intensive early intervention can even make us do the jobs ourselves.
And that’s what you seem to really want. When you wear your puzzle ribbons and blue-for-the-month hair. You scream “for a cure!” and sometimes you even say you want “solutions.” Both of these dogwhistles mean you want your real child dead and gone.

There is no other child beneath the Autistic one. You can make us act neurotypical, but it should be obvious by our pain that it’s not our true state. I could train my dog to use a litter box, that wouldn’t make him any more a cat just because I prefer cats.

And even if there was some other, neurotypical child hiding beneath, what right do you have to kill the Autistic one? Because wound into every fiber of personality, of love, of intricate passion and broad aversion and everything that makes one, “one,” is Autism. And if you rip out the Autism by some god forsaken means, out comes all that love and fear and promise and hope that makes a person a person, entangled in the roots. And you get a dead child.

And that’s what you want.

Light it up blue, like their lifeless bodies.

The Stolen Narrative

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.

An Introduction to Your Culture, Autistic Friend

Most people are born into their cultures.

Autistic people, like us, have to find theirs. We certainly have a culture, but we’re spread few and far between, across the internet and sparsely in meatspace. Two Autistic people may meet each other and have entirely different ideas of what it means to be Autistic– even proudly Autistic. But regardless of individual discrepancies, there is an overarching culture that all Autistics can be a part of, and there needs to be a guide to this cultural world.

Here’s that guide. Come along now.

Our first stop is at Acceptance. This is Autistic culture’s gift to you. Imagine it as a ticket that says, “you are fine just as you are. You don’t need to be fixed. You don’t need a cure.” Keep it with you, because it will guide you through how you see Autistic culture.

Now there’s a few things you can’t take through the gate. Functioning labels are one. Autistic culture doesn’t align with the idea you can be a blanket statement “low” or “high” functioning human being. People function at different levels for different activities, and further, using these functioning labels can be anything from divisive to dehumanizing.

You also can’t take cures. Not that there are any. If there were, though, that would literally be eugenics. Look at your Acceptance. If you flip it over, it says you’re a perfectly valid human and autistic with no contradiction. Getting rid of your autism is getting rid of you. No cures.

Oh. You’ll need your vaccines. They’re good for you. Oh, you’re immunocompromised? That’s cool, we’re vaccinated enough to have herd immunity.

Let’s go through the gate into Autismville. You’ll notice that the slogan on the sign says, “An Autistic Community.” This isn’t the Autism Community, that’s over there and it’s where the parents and therapists live.

Now! To the right, we have stimming. What’s stimming, you might be asking? It can be a lot of things, from bouncing your legs as you sit, to flapping your hands when you’re excited or scared, or humming a few lines from a favorite song over and over, or any repetitive activity that calms you down. Anyways, stimming is good. It keeps us happy and well-regulated, even though the people in the dungeon try to stop us.

What was that? “What dungeon?” Don’t worry, we’ll get to the dungeon. More pertinent now is the AAC booth over to the left.

If you go talk to the woman at that booth, she’ll respond with her phone app– Augmentive and Alternative Communication. AAC. She’s non-speaking. That’s the word we like to use for people who don’t talk much, or at all, with their mouths. We don’t say non-verbal, because we find that implies a complete lack of communication, which isn’t true.

See those banners up there? The rainbow infinity sign is called a mobius, and it represents the endless spectrum that all autistics fall within. There is no start or end, just continuity.

Watch out for the giraffe party. Those are a long story, but we like them.

If you continue down this path, you’ll come to the castle. There’s a sign, “no flash photography or strobe lights”. Autism is highly comorbid with epilepsy and quite frankly, the flashing annoys us. Many of us are very sensitive to light and sound, as you probably know.

In the castle are two queens. That’s because, while Autism Awareness makes people think this is a boy disorder, plenty of women are autistic too– just underdiagnosed. The Queens’ names are Pride and Fury. Pride guides you in being true to yourself. Fury helps you make your needs known to those who don’t want to listen.

Yes, they’re lesbians. A lot of Autistic folks are LGBT+. A lot.

Pride and Fury told me we could visit the dungeon. It’ll be our last stop. Don’t worry! You aren’t staying there. It’s just down this staircase, or elevator if that’s more accessible.

Come through this door. Take a deep breath, the smell in here is wretched. Now look down into that pit. See those people down there? They’re ABA therapists. Some of them just straight up wants to fix unbroken kids, yeah, but some of them actually think they’re doing good and don’t understand. Those are the ones clawing at the walls, claiming that their ABA is different. They’re not.

What’s that? That guy in the middle? That’s Lovaas. He invented ABA. It was based on his attempt to prevent gayness in feminine boys.  Called it the Feminine Boy Project. No, stop! Don’t google it! You’ll cry.

Oh, here we go. It’s feeding time, I guess. Yeah, feeding time! Watch that cave. That big ol’ hydra coming out is Autism Speaks. It eats the money that autism parents insist on giving to it. We want to let it starve, but they just keep sending the money.

Watch! Watch how the hydra eats almost all of it. The ABA therapists will feast on the remaining 3%.

Oh, and that Autism Speaks hydra? Only like two of its heads are autistic, and really wishy-washy ones at that. Pitiful.

Alright, that’s enough for now. Let’s get you to your house. What’s your diagnosis? Ahh, doesn’t really matter. We’re all Autistic here, even if you’re self-diagnosed. But if you feel more comfortable saying Aspergers, we can get you a place there too. Just remember– we’re all in this together, none of that Aspie Supremacy!

I’ll let you get settled in now. Goodbye, and welcome to your culture.