This post is not aimed at any person in particular. If you feel it is aimed at you, think again, it isn’t. There is no intent to identify any person. Please note this is an attempt at understanding and moving forward. That is all.
Readers may remember my recent post on personal healing vs cure culture. In the days since then, it has been quite a difficult time for sections of the autistic community. There has been hurt, accusations slung about, removal of people from group, misunderstanding and all the mess and rubbish that tends to go with that sort of thing. It has not been a party by any stretch of the imagination.
Personally, this has been a really difficult time. I have seen people I respected and trusted be hurt and I have seen others that I respect and trust cause hurt. I have spent much time trying to make sense of all this.
I can’t claim innocence in this, I have tried to make sense of it, and I have, I confess engaged in debate and argument that has not been helpful in the situation. In the midst of that though I have come to a conclusion, that, it is only by choosing to not stoop to the level of blocking, banning and ostracising people that our autistic communities can thrive.
The autistic communities are our party. It is our responsibility to make them work. It is our responsibility to not do to each other what in so many cases has been done to us.
In these recent days, I have seen all sorts of hurtful things happening. People, human people, told they are not good enough to advocate, accused of being purveyors of woo, had screenshots circled around, people attacked in PM’s. I have seen people co-opted by others to do the work of bullying their fellow autistics. This is not Ok. Surely this can’t go on.
At the more extreme end of actions, I have even seen hostile takeovers of groups resulting in lots of pain and hurt and public postings about such pain.
This is our party fellow autistics. It is our ball game, it is our responsibility to do better.
There is so much I could say. There is so much dirty laundry I could air about this, yet it seems so pointless and fruitless to do so. I am choosing not to. I do have something to say, though. A few things.
Firstly, there is no one leader in these autistic communities there are many. And there is no one person who holds a privileged position enabling them to declare who is and who isn’t an advocate. If you are embracing the neurodiversity paradigm and telling people about it you are then advocating, you are an advocate. If you wear a Âû after your name then you are by that very process an advocate. There aren’t real advocates and pretend advocates. There are autistics living autistic lives seeking to bring about acceptance and human rights for autistics and all humans. It doesn’t only count if you are part of some organisation, or if you are running a group, or if you are giving talks. If you are working in whatever capacity you are able then you are a true advocate.
Secondly, if you are an advocate, it is not an appropriate action to ban, block, and ostracise those you claim to advocate for. Life is complex, human relationships are complex. That’s a given. People will have personal issues with each other. But here’s the thing, we are in fact all people, human people with the same human rights. For any of us to deliberately block and ban a fellow autistic from their support structures, be it online of “in real life” is not an act of advocacy. It is an act of sabotage, bullying, abuse and self-preservation.
Thirdly, all of us, and yes I mean all of us will make mistakes. We will muck it up and hurt people. The important aspect of this is to do our own soul searching, to look inside ourselves and be big enough and honest enough to acknowledge and seek to make amends for it when we do. Holding grudges doesn’t help anyone. It hurts us as we hold the grudge and it hurts those we hold the grudges against. What’s more, it eats us up inside and that is surely not good for anyone.
I along with many others grew up as an undiagnosed autistic. I experienced bullying and abuse in just about every avenue of life I walked in. I do not want to experience that in the autistic community and I do not want to see fellow autistics experience it either.
It’s our party and we are responsible for making it a party and not wake.
I want autism/autistic acceptance across all levels of society. I want that my autistic children do not need to face the same bullying and abuse I have faced in negotiating their way through growing up and achieving their dreams. Implosions time and again in our own communities are not helping in this goal.
Please, autistic communities, please fellow autistics can we stop this now. Can we try to respect each other, can we try to talk before firing word bullets at each other.
I don’t want to pretend I have any special wisdom here, I’m just putting some words out there that represent something of how I am feeling and what I hope for.
It’s our party and we can cry if we want to. When the tears have been exhausted, though, what then?