X is for Xenophobic…
So I had to come up with something for X. I looked up a list of x words and mostly they are pretty meaningless to me. I am sure they have genuine and important meaning but to me they are unpronounceable and I would need to spend a long time in a dictionary. Perhaps there is a more relevant word beginning with X in regards to autism and living autistically but Xenophobic is the word I used.
Mostly we hear the word in relation to racist rubbish, I have heard it thrown around a little in light of the Syrian refugee crises the world is grappling with. But to me at its heart, the meaning is fear of other. And in that respect, it is a highly appropriate word to be considered in regard to autism acceptance month.
Yes, xenophobic, it’s like that look in the eye you get from some people when you say oh I’m autistic or my child’s autistic. It’s the look of irrational fear that underneath pretty much says, oh shit, get away from me you freak, or keep your freak child away from me.
Xenophobic, that is what is going on in the terrible rhetoric, the negative narrative, the blame games, the latest claim to a cause or a cure.
Xenophobic is the reality of what is going on when organisations like Autism $peaks make adds like the notorious “I am Autism” video, where this terrible other, this plague, is coming to destroy you.
Xenophobic is the paradigm that is occurring when murderers of autistic children have sympathy conveyed to them, because, shit, life must have just been so tough with an autistic child.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no question that living as an autistic person or raising autistic kids is a struggle at times. It’s tough, but it’s also glorious, wonderful and fulfilling.
But you know what, living any life is a struggle and raising any kid is a struggle. I guess it’s called life.
Xenophobic, though, that’s the fear and hatred that gives rise to celebrities making ridiculous claims about us being an epidemic, it’s the stuff that causes fraudulent research studies blaming vaccines for creating us, it’s the stuff that gets political candidates to claim we are an epidemic in the hope of garnering support and votes.
I am autism, and, you know what, I am not to be feared.
I am autism and you know what else, I am not here to destroy you, your marriage, your family, your work, your anything.
I am autism and I am just here to live my life. Just, as I suspect, are you.
Autism and autistics are nothing to be scared of. Contrary to the mythic beliefs that we are empathy lacking empty shells, we love, we laugh, just like you do.
Xenophobia about us rears its ugly head when there is a mass shooting or other terrible occurrence. Quickly you see people make a claim that the perpetrator was autistic or aspergers, groups on social media are created to malign us.
We are nothing to fear. We are autistic, just as we are Australian, American, Brittish, French, Irish, Russian etc.
Just as we beg you not to grieve for us, so we beg you not to fear us and not to hate us.
I’ve seen at times attitudes by some parents of autistic children talk about hating the autism. Again this is Xenophobia rearing its horrible ugly head. In these cases, it causes a level of disconnect for the parents, a disconnect that autism and their child are inextricably linked.
It’s the xenophobic rubbish that gives credence to the lies, that, too many unfortunately believe, that autism has robbed them of the child they had, or the child they deserved. That somehow they have this changeling in the place of the real child.
No, you don’t have that at all. You have the real child. They are right there in front of you. They long for your love, your care, your protection.
They long for your acceptance.
A Xenophobic attitude has damaged autistic people for far too long. It has given rise to hate, fear, abusive treatments, lies and myths, and of course the ubiquitous BeWareness campaigns.
Autism Acceptance though is the antithesis of this xenophobic attitude.
I am autistic, I am here.
I am autistic I am human.
I am autistic there is nothing to fear or hate.