You see phrases bandied around about Autism wars, there is even a blog dedicated to the topic. It’s a great blog actually I recommend you visit it here. Unfortunately it really does seem that there is an Autism war on. It’s not a nice war. It’s a horrible war. It pits parents against children, doctors against parents, Autistics against parents groups. It puts Organisations against the people they claim to support.
It really is an very exhausting war. I am a fighter in this war. It’s not by choice it is by necessity. I am in this war as a combatant. I am a combatant for my very identity. For the acceptance of my identity. My identity and many of my friends identities. Indeed, my own children’s identity.
I am generally one who abhors conflict, I have spent years running from it, avoiding it at all costs. Here I am now however, loading up the barrels ready to go in and blast my way through. To blast away at the enemies of Autistics. The enemies of Neurodiversity. Those that seek to deny the existence of the autistic, deny them the right of a fulfilling life, to deny them the existence of adequate support, adequate assistance, adequate accommodations. Deny them the experience of quality education and employment.
The gun must be loaded, the artillery prepared, the fighter jets prepared, the destroyers made ready. We must be ready with all the different weapons at our disposal. All of them, every single front we see needs to be taken up. The enemy is fighting. The enemy has, unfortunately been advancing, they are currently in charge of the propaganda machine that spreads the narrative about autism, that muddies the water and makes it so difficult to fight a fair just war. The diplomacy angle is very hard to engage in because the propaganda is so fierce, strong and thick on the ground.
There is of course a big question. Who is this enemy? Again this makes our task difficult because our enemy is difficult to define. They are at times difficult to identify. Oh there are certainly some obvious ones. They are easy to identify. The ones like The big peak bodies like Autism Speaks that run a horrible narrative about the battling autism, about epidemics and finding cures. There are the dangerous ones like Genesis ][ Church and CD Autism and MMS and Kerri and her minions. Spreading there horrible abusive and dangerous cures.
Yes there are the ones that are easy to identify. Like ABA therapy. These are though, merely the institutional enemies. The ones that have effectively declared themselves. They include the above and there are others, like the AutismOne quackiest, the recently deceased Dr Jeff Bradstreet, the discredited Wakefield. The lie spreading Jenny Mc Carthy and her horrible Generation Rescue.
Really I have just named a few. Just a small segment of the big players that are in battle against Âûtistic people and Âûtistic identity. There are so many more and I am sure there are many that others could name that I have not even thought of. The difficult ones to identify though are not these, they are the less out there, the parent who writes Facebook posts about special gluten free diets, the celebrity chef who says his menu can cure autism. The dangerous health nuts that claim fecal transplant have given them back their child. The rampant anti-vaccination narrative that pervades the dialogue even though it has been thoroughly discredited by so many research studies.
A picture of who the battle is against I hope has been painted, but it’s so much more than about defeating them. It is so much more than this. So much more about the defense. The defence of ourselves and the many to come after us. To rescue them from Bleach enemas, Chelation, Poo Transplants, GcMaf. To reduce them from therapies that could leave them with lifelong PTSD. To rescue from lives filled with a belief their very parents had wished for a different child than the one they had.
This is who we are fighting for. This is the picture we must keep in mind. This is why we must choose our weapons wisely. Look for the weapon that suits not only the particular battle we are in, but the weapon that plays to our strength. It could be art, it could be writing, it could be making a big noise, it could be making submissions. The idea that there is only one way is fanciful.
I don’t want this war. I want this war to be over. I want Âûtistic people to be valued. I want Âûtistic people to be included. I want Âûtistic people to be celebrated. This can’t happen with the current state of play. This can’t happen while the rhetoric in the media is as it is. This can’t happen while quackfests like AutismOne are able to exist. This can’t happen while ABA therapy is allowed to continue to take Âûtistic children and attempt to transform them into neurotypical children.
As long as Peak bodies like Amaze (Autism Victoria) and others I am sure, try to take a so called unbiased stance. Saying they don’t promote a particular therapy but ABA is evidenced based, all the while ignoring the voices of Autistics speaking against it. Then, Âûtistics can’t live without fear of being silenced, sidelined and ignored.
Yes there is a war on. Yes it needs to be fought. The question is will you fight it?
I long for the day When the war is over.