I experienced a bit of an implosion in the autistic/autism social media community today. It was not fun. It happens and at times, it is hard to avoid it. There was labelling, there was tone policing, there was a bunch of things said that shouldn’t have been. People were hurt and people are triggered. This is never a good situation.
What began as a discussion about autism from a non-autistic person genuinely seeking information generated into a number of passionate threads of discussion on a couple of particular issues that are always of great importance in autistic advocacy circles. The issues at hand were the use of functioning labels and ABA therapy. To a lesser extent, the question of identity first language and person first language came into it also.
In the aftermath of this very long and drawn out discussion people were, I think, a little on edge and wary. The particular group in question was a group attempting to be a somewhat open group allowing discussion on pretty much any issue. Some prominent members of the group talk often of their own personal healing. This suddenly became an issue.
But, really it shouldn’t have. It was, unfortunately instantly labelled as being “woo” and “pseudoscience”. Assumptions were made that the people were “curebies”, that they were seeking to cure autism. Nothing could be further from the truth. These people in question are proud autistics.
Wanting personal healing does not make you a curebie. Healing takes many forms and comes through many avenues. It may come through traditional therapies, strong friendships, other relationships and spiritual journeys to name a few. This process is not a curebie process. It is a journey of healing, a journey to wholeness. A seeking to be the very best person one can be.
A healing journey is not a process of trying to eradicate the autistic within, in fact, it is more like a process of accepting and celebrating the autistic within.
Personally, as an undiagnosed autistic, I was on the receiving end of much abuse and bullying throughout childhood and into adulthood. I know from discussions with others in my tribe that I am far from the only one to have experienced this kind of life. Far from it indeed. This leads me to feel that it is, in fact, probable that much more of us should, in fact, be seeking out a personal healing journey.
It is an unfortunate reality of life as an autistic that is engaged within the autism communities that they do face cure talk often. That they often are faced with terrible ideas and abusive practices in the name of ridding the world of autism. There are groups dedicated to the eradication of autism and autistics from the face of the planet.
There are people making a fortune out of selling abusive treatments designed to cure autism. There are books available written by parents declaring they wished their kids had cancer rather than being autistic.
It is an understandable reality that we can at times adopt a siege mentality and be wary of anything that is outside a reference point of an autism acceptance model. Indeed, even things that are not outside this but are misinterpreted as being so.
It is important to remember that we autistics operate in a world where organisations, the medical professions in general and the media, in particular, have successfully painted us as undesirable, abnormal, draining and damaging on families and something so undesirable it must be eradicated. However, it is also just as important for us to acknowledge that people seek to heal from the traumas they have endured, to find themselves, to find peace and acknowledgement of who they really are.
I appeal to my community to read before we jump to conclusions. To listen and engage with others with respect, honesty and humility. I appeal to my community to not discard or disregard the importance of personal therapies and healing journeys embarked on as they seek to discover themselves and find inner peace as autistics and humans sharing this earth with everyone else.
I appeal to my community, the journey of autistic acceptance is a long enough and hard enough journey without imploding again and again within our own bubbles. The goal is acceptance an implosion of infighting will never achieve it.