10/31/2011

Autistics Speaking Day

Last year, a well-intentioned but misguided group tried to get people to abstain from all online social networking so they could get a feel for what it means to be autistic. Corina Becker and Kathryn Bjornstad started Autistic Speaking Day to counter this. Last year's contributors can be found in a listing on their blog for the event.

Last year, I wrote in support of autistics speaking.  I suggested:

Instead I say, go to the blogs by individuals on the spectrum and say hi. Read some entries. Learn what their lives are like. Our children will one day be autistic adults. We want to make sure our children have a good support system, well, let's be a good support system to the autistic adults who are in our midst now.

Sometimes it's hard to be a good support system when miscommunications occur, and it is unfortunate when friendships unravel over disagreements, but speaking out as an ally and knowing when to hush as an ally and allow those who we support to advocate and speak for themselves are important.

So, tomorrow, on Autistic Speaking Day, I'm still suggesting you take time to read their words. You don't have to agree with them at the individual level, you don't have to like them personally, but you should honor their right to speak and that they choose to, that they fight for the right to express themselves, and that they accomplish that.

Someday our kids may get to do the same thing, and we want a receptive, accepting audience for them to feel safe to express themselves, that they will not be personally attacked for that. They must learn that they may encounter criticism, but where that criticism is offered with evidence, they are not being dismissed, but instead treated as equals in the discourse and worthy of debate.

I hope that tomorrow will be a productive and instructive day for those who participate as writers and readers and that dialogues will occur on the blogs and community built.

6 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

I have no issues with other people's POV except when they claim to speak for others.

Autistic adults and parents do this. I don't agree. To claim a particular therapy is the be all and end all and thereby refusing to acknowledge that others of us have different needs... is wrong. To claim to know more about my child's autism and issues than I do... is wrong.

I'm the first to have opinions... don't roll your eyes :)... I can give you quite the list if you want them...

But as long as you don't claim to speak for the "masses" we'll get along. Generalize and claim to speak for me and mine... we won't.

secretaspie said...

This is something I'm trying to achieve with my own blog, secretaspie.wordpress.com. Hopefully by speaking out and describing myself, I will be able to help people with Auties/Aspies in their lives to understand better.

KWombles said...

Understood, fw2. :)


secretaspie, good luck! :) I will add you to the directory if you're not already on it.

Corina Becker said...

I understand your position, fw2, but I think your statement that autistic adults and parents claim to speak others is a gross generalization.

For example, I have never claimed to speak for all Autistic people. I have been asked to represent some of the Autistic population, and there are a lot of others who support my positions on things, but I have never made the claim that I speak for all. I have also found that there are quite a few Autistic individuals and parents who make sure to make it clear that they do not represent the entire population.


Events such like ASDay are there to support each person, to let people speak for themselves, without automatically having to put the this-is-my-personal-opinion-i'm-not-a-representative-of-the-whole disclaimer that we often have to put up, especially in face of such generalizations which can be harmful to community-building and discussion.

This isn't to say that there aren't Autistic people and parents who don't make that claim, some of which I do and do not agree with their positions, but I would very much appreciate if generalizations were avoided.

Thank you.

melbo said...

Great! Another aspie blog for my reading list.

As always Kim you are spot on.

farmwifetwo said...

Corina,

I can find many blogs of parents that do speak for all parents - from the "only ABA" to the "I don't want to cure my kid" to the "vaccines are evil" to the... I can also find the same of adults with autism but I find for the most part that message has been hijacked by the "speaking" end of the spectrum and anti-cure. I've been online in autism-land for the last 5yrs. The same "campers" have also been around the same length of time.

I fight that battle daily in the school and medical systems. Stereotypes are a dangerous thing. I've posted before that now parents with children with Asperger's can no longer get the Disability tax credit for their children... autism and it's label of "difference" can do considerable harm... even if it's just much needed monies or educational supports. We've lost OT and Speech in the school systems. Been replaced by behavioural training (PPM 140). Which works wonderfully if you have a "passing for normal" son that needs to master the playground and personal space like mine... but doesn't teach communication nor dealing with sensory issues like my severe one.

So, I make a point everywhere I go, to bust stereotypes... my favs are that the severely autistic cannot communicate which we've proven wrong and gotten into the AAC/ACS program... another is that those with autism "see in pictures"... my kids definately don't.

The list goes on.

Best thing anyone can do is educate those in their sphere "if you've met one person with autism... you've only met ONE person with autism".