New Autistic Self-Advocacy Projects Worth Watching

Filed Under (Activism) by Estee on 28-10-2012

There are those that say we don’t exist. There are a few who says neurodiversity is simply an ideology and not about “real” people. Those in the videos, they claim, aren’t autistic at all. They are fakers. They don’t have it as bad.

There are people who continue to parse hierarchies of suffering in order to make a case that they are more right and the rest are wrong. Those who claim priviledge of declaring a “truth” or “reality” should be approached with caution.

To that end, I invite you to consider what makes a social movement? What makes a culture? If shared experience, arts, space, embodiment, to name a few attributes we might use to describe them, then I think the continued affirmation of autistic existence that has created a neurodiverse culture or movement (that is the label as it stands today anyway, so let’s go with it) can expand our understanding of human difference and the challenges that many of us, or our loved ones, face. We are all on the ability-disability continuum by viture of life, ageing. While I do not claim to share the exact embodiment and experience of my son, I share the effects of his disablement in society every day. Considering the personal and shared experience of disability might be a way that we can forge empathy, sensitivity and new understandings. We have so much to share and discuss and there are many serious issues facing us.

I introduce (to those who haven’t discovered them yet) two new autistic self-advocacy organizations (this first one is a project OF The Autistic Self Advocacy Network), The Loud Hands Project,

and Autistic Intelligence Org, a mix of autistic self advocates and allies.

Also check out the Autistic Passing Project

I’m enthusiastic also about the age group of some of the new autistic self advocacy orgs, projects and blogs that are sprouting into public view. It’s not going to be easy. Autism organizations have racked up a questionable history, and there are many issues that we need to trouble and talk a lot about. Claiming identity and being proud of it is something personal as well as communal. Self identity and embodiment is also shaped by challenges, pain and even suffering — within the body and outside of it by the barriers we claim to belong to social construction. Organizing can be a way to welcome more people into the discourse. Embracing all of the aspects of being disabled or impaired is a way to be inclusive of everyone who has a stake in this.

I think all of us should encourage and support the efforts by autistic people. Projects help us to work out the way we think and feel about our situation as well as working for needed supports and asserting rights. If we are to critique them, let’s do so with respect. I think the purpose of self-advocacy movements has been largely misconstrued (or not even understood in a culture that both raises money for curing just about everything and proclaims that other bodies outside of their familiar own are “tragic”). We need to work on improving our efforts at enabling respect for all human life without demeaning or belittling an assertion of an autsitic identity (if one chooses to self-identify as such) or reinforcing the power structures that have oppressed disabled people for hundreds of years.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.