Today, November 1st, is Autistics Speaking Day.
And I have so much to say that I don’t even know where to begin.
I want to talk about ABA and similar therapies: the pros, the cons, the trauma, the gaining of invaluable communication skills, and how even the “good” behavioral therapists need to stay on their toes to make sure that the person is seen–and sees themselves as–a valid human being worthy of respect and dignity exactly as the people they are.
I want to talk about burnout, about how we can sooner recognize it, about how to prevent it, or at least soften it, about how terrified I am that I’m falling apart and that I can’t stop it.
I want to talk about how many Autistic people need neurodiversity and the self-acceptance, the self-celebration, the focus on the strengths and positives that it promotes for the health of our own psyche…but also that those who do see their being on the spectrum solely as a pathological condition also have the right to view it that way.
I want to talk about Sensory Friendly events and how awesome they are and how some of these accommodations just make sense in general, everyday life–does anyone really need a blaring soundtrack for choosing between two brands of toilet paper?
I want to talk about diagnostics, about how our current criteria can be adjusted still, about the under-diagnosis of females and adults, about comorbid diagnoses, about how to best describe different people with different symptoms and intensities of those symptoms and, thus, different needs while still making sense within the larger field of diagnostics.
I want to talk about presumption of competence, about how people of all levels of ability should be given the opportunity to prove that they can succeed in their own way, whether that be at work, at school, at some creative task, at handiwork, at whatever skills they have (because we all have something to contribute), about the infantilization of Autistic and other disabled adults and how we really need to re-think our concepts of mental age (and perhaps age in general).
I walk to talk about an idea I have for a stim lounge/sensory-item-retail store where people can come into a more-dimly-lit, low-noise environment and try out stim toys and sensory items (and then purchase the items that they like).
I want to talk, and I want to be heard.
And I’m not alone.
One day, I’ll get around to talking about all of this and so, so, so much more (I hope).
But today, I have a ton of homework to do and so little energy to do it with.
So I’ll direct you to the words of my peers, who also have a lot to say and who deserve to be heard. I’ll direct you to the Autistics Speaking Day blog where many bloggers contribute their works and to the #ASDay hashtag on your social media platform. I urge you to keep your mind open to the #actuallyautistic people around you, be it online or in person; I urge you to listen to what they have to say, however and by whatever means that they chose to say it. I urge you to involve autistic people in your discussions about autism-related matters, in your autism-oriented events, and in your autism organizations (nothing about us without us!).
Autistics speak, even if by AAC device or signing instead of vocally, autistics have been speaking for some time, and autistics will continue to speak.
Please, for the sake of your family member, your friend, your classmate, your co-worker, your peer, your fellow human being, make an effort to hear us.