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?

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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.