Yes, there were social badges, yes there was a sensory room. But only a few of the vendors understood what it meant, and the sensory room was kinda far away from the rest of the conference. Sure, you want to make sure there's quiet for the room, but when I'm spending what little resources I have just to get there and back, it's not really worth it.
Even as my autistic peers and I passed around curebie bingo cards and filled them in rather quickly, I was optimistic; it had to be better than it used to be, right? It's not the huge sweeping changes we want, but these things take time, right? Surely they're working to be better.
Alas, I fear I was hopelessly optimistic. Yesterday, as the autistic and disability communities were observing the Disability Day of Mourning, ASA sent out emails about the upcoming conference, announcing their keynote speaker.
This is not how a community, how an organization moves forward to include and respect autistic people. It shows not only in decisions regarding treating individual situations, but also widespread decisions on who you honour as major speakers, who you give a platform to.
Instead of choosing any number of qualifying autistic people, ASA decided to have the writers of In A Different Key as keynote speaker.
Given the way these writers fail to do basic fact checking for their book, the harmful attitudes towards autistic people, the sympathizing with murderers and abusers of autistic people, I really do not see how this can be seen as anything but representative of how ASA views actually autistic people.
It's disgraceful and hurtful for an organization that is so prominent to highlight and uphold violence against the people they are supposed to be supporting. It is damaging and it is endangering autistic lives.
Stop killing us!!!