It’s true. Autistics are in need of protection. They are in need of protection as babies, as children, and as adults. The attacks come from so many different fronts. They can be physical, emotional, mental, intellectual. They are delivered by parents, siblings, governments, newspapers, charity organisations, law enforcement, therapists, researchers, doctors and so the list goes on.
You may like to dismiss this as hyperbole, or, you may say that everyone can be attacked by those sources. And there is an element of truth in that claim. But, is everyone attacked because of their neurology, the way they are wired or for just being who they are.
It is imperative that autistics be protected from attack, measures must be put in place to ensure this occurs. This is actually a difficult thing to define and explain as the attacks come in so many forms and guises. To develop measures to combat them is an ever changing and ever constant task.
Self-advocacy is vital to the protection of autistics. As autistic people learn to self-advocate for their rights, their safety and their position as valuable human persons the ball starts rolling as a measure of protection. When an autistic self-advocates and says no I do not want that therapy, no I do not like to be referred to in that way, yes I am a complete person and similar they are asserting their humanity and declaring themselves.
This is key, it really is, even though it is a personal stance of protection it spreads. Like a grassroots, movement spreads from person to person so self-advocacy spreads from autistic to autistic.
The most well-known advocacy network in the autistic space is most likely the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, of course, it is not the only one. It is a sign of what can happen when self-advocacy develops and spreads. The spin-off of this is that autistic advocates become more than self-advocates and start advocating for each other. It takes the form of bloggers, conference speakers, published authors, academics and activists.
These networks develop from a few people meeting in meet-ups through to vast social network groups of many thousands of people. Communication occurs in email, skype, youtube, text, private messaging, forums and of course face to face. The brilliance of this is the protection of each other. The helping each other to find their own voice and to become their own self-advocates.
This is a measure that is especially important. An often stated thing by parents of non-speaking autistics is that they are their child’s voice. This is false. They are not their child’s voice, what they are is a voice for their child. But what about when that voice is at odds with what is in the best interest of the autistic child. Who speaks for that autistic child when the parent pushes towards something that child does not want or is possibly harmful to that child. What then?
At the rawer end of the measures of protection are activists. They work in a very proactive way to declare the rights of autistics, to work for their protection. Activists such as Emma Dalmayne and Fiona O’Leary work relentlessly to protect autistic children in particular from the ravages of harmful treatments enforced on them. Treatments like bleach enemas and bovine hormone injections.
Relentlessly they put themselves out there, contact the media, allow themselves to be quoted in the media, infiltrate groups and do anything in their power to bring to light the evil practices that bring damage to autistic people. These activists should be embraced and supported. At times we may disagree with methods or actions they take but they should be supported and embraced as they are working for us. They work at personal risk and regularly find themselves the target of smear campaigns and threats.
In my view, it is imperative that we embrace measures to protect autistics. It is so important because we autistics are humans just like everyone else. Often we are depicted as diseased, disordered, damaged, injured, dangerous, violent and incapable. This very depiction opens the door for us to be attacked and so we need protection.
It must be remembered that autistic rights are human rights.
I embrace measures to protect autistic life and wellbeing.