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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's the Point of World Autism Awareness?

Autism awareness, I have to ask, what are you doing it for? What is your point? In the words of many a university professor, so what?

If you’re doing it because it’s the “right thing to do” or the cause of the month, because it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling and a pat on the back, just stop. Especially if you’re cutting off and silencing Autistic people. Stop, and pick a different cause. Thanks, but no thanks. We don’t need no crocodile tears, no false allies distracting the world from what really needs happening.

Go find yourself a cause that affects you personally, or learn what’s truly important about autism awareness.

I’ll tell you a secret, or rather, not a secret, if you’d pay attention. It’s not actually about the autism awareness. Oh sure, increased awareness seems good, less of us slipping through the cracks, more of us figuring out who we are earlier, how to function, how to navigate the turbulent and disabling seas of society.

But there’s a down side too. It means THEY can find us, the bigots, the bullies, our rapists, abusers and murderers. You think I’m joking? You think I’m being over dramatic?
The statistics say otherwise. In violent crimes involving autistic people, autistic people are mainly the victims. In general, disabled people are ten times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than non-disabled people, ten times, with just the crimes that are reported. Studies have noted that disabled people often have no confidence in the police and the justice system, so crimes they face are often not reported.

At least ten times. Think of the statistics on rape, on violent crimes, on murder. At least ten times more likely. You should feel sick.

Awareness is not enough. Allies is not enough. What is the point?
The point?
The point is this: I think, therefore I am.
I am a human being. I am Autistic.
I am an Autistic person.
The point is that as a human being, as an Autistic person, I have rights. Human rights. Disability rights. Autism rights.

I refuse to add the “self” to advocate, to my activism, because I am not advocating just for myself, but for every Autistic person alive, now and future generations. For our rights as humans, our rights as Autistic humans.

So what? What’s the point?

The point is that without acceptance, without human rights, autism awareness is worthless. You may not like each and every one of us personally, but we have human rights. And it is my right, as a human being, as an Autistic person, to decide my own future. My future, my choice.

Nothing about us, without us.
It’s as simple as that.
At the front of any conversation regarding Autistic lives should be Autistic people. It is our lives, after all, that are ultimately affected by any decision. We are then supported by any support staff, family members, caregivers, professionals, academics. Scientists may research merrily, but when it comes to affecting our lives directly, we have the final say. Our lives, our choice.

So the point? It’s not autism awareness, it’s Autistic awareness.
Here we are. This is what we want. Our rights. Our lives. Ours.
Ours. Period.