Who is Safe; Who is “At Risk?” Some More Considerations Before April

Filed Under (Ableism, Activism, Advocacy, Charity, Disability History, Government Services, Inclusion, NEugenics, Newgenics, Pity, Research, school, The Autism Genome Project) by Estee on 25-03-2013

As we head into April, I thought I’d post Protest on the Plinth which states that the value system from the Nazi era hasn’t changed much today. If people make out disabled people’s lives to be “intolerable,” then how can we make safe legislation?” asks the disabled woman in the video. It is not egregious to point to what happened to the disabled during the Nazi era and unpack the value systems that linger today – that lead to the belief that disabled lives are an intolerable economic burden on society. Posters of the “costs” of the disabled to the German “folk” were commonplace.

Systemic mechanisms (government programs, schools, corporate bodies) that tell us what kinds of bodies (and minds) we are supposed to normalize, regulate, or get rid of, or what are “acceptable” minds and bodies. Charity campaigns don’t typically tell donors that they need to be patient as corporations or as individuals; that they to collaborate with disabled people, work alongside people with disabilities, or that it is a disabled person’s right to be educated (instead of remediated as a “ramp” to normative education -see Moore v. British Columbia, 2012). They don’t talk about autistic and disability rights. Charities are busy raising money, mainly, for cures.

When scientific and representational linguistics point to children “at risk,” we might instead ask, just who are we trying to “keep safe” and why is society so dreadfully afraid of people with disabilities? Remember to consider language and how it both reflects, and shapes, the way we consider people with the autism label. From where I’m standing, however, we are definitely at risk, not from autism, but from an intolerable society.

And don’t forget to check about the counter campaign to “Light It Up Blue” by checking out the Autism Acceptance Day Blog Postings.

No Pity: As April Approaches…

Filed Under (Advocacy, Charity, The Economy of Pity) by Estee on 11-03-2013

I am finishing my M.A. in Critical Disability Studies, a fortunate position which I hope to give back to many others as The Autism Acceptance Project grows again. There are lots of writing deadlines now and April is on my mind…if you haven’t yet seen this video by Drew Morton Goldsmith, take a look before it begins:

I also am presently reading Chris Hedges The Death of the Liberal Class and reserve my opinions as of yet. However, this is a good video to consider in our Economy of Pity and to question just who is running our charities and for what purpose are we trying to “ameliorate”(or control, or sequester) autistic people from or in society? It’s a bigger question, as well, with regards to where we think autistic people do, or do not belong in our economy/nation state. Think about that when April comes raising money to cure autism. This coming month, let’s write and talk about why this is happening.

The Oppressive Charity Model: Reconsidering Autism Acceptance

Filed Under (Acceptance, Advocacy, The Economy of Pity) by Estee on 04-03-2013

This isn’t going to be one of my longer posts. I was simply driving Adam to school today listening to this song and thinking how fast April is approaching (for those of you who don’t yet know…April is supposed to be Autism Awareness Month). What kind of awareness are we constructing about autism? Are we supporting a charity model that, for hundreds of years, has oppressed people with disabilities? What about NOT making autistic kids heroes in the name of real equality and inclusion? What about just being, or being allowed to be? What about “flying with everyone else” as autistic people? “I don’t want to be a part of the parade,” well, at least not this kind of parade. How can we think of other ways to support autistic folks outside of the charity model that uses various stereotypes of disability – the tragedy, the needy, the sick, the criminally violent, the hero, the supercrip…? How might we, as “advocates,” avoid being kettled by the charity-model?


About Me


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.