Quick shout out to neurowonderful! Who has been an excellent resource about autism and all around awesome person! Thank you so much for all that you do! I’ve learned so much from you as I’m sure so many more have!
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, what about shutting up, sitting the fuck down and listening to what autistic people have to say about autism?
1. Autism is a fundamental part of who we are and how we experience the world and it cannot be separated from who we are as people. Autism isn’t something that is happening to us, it’s something we are. Do not tell us that autism is something that we have or something that we’re suffering from, that we only have value if we can separate our identities and our personalities from autism. For the vast majority of autistic people, autism is a part of our identity which means that despite common belief most of us prefer to be called “autistic” as opposed to “people with autism.”
2. The vast majority of autistic people do not want a cure, we want acceptance and accommodations. Do not put your time and money into researching how to cure autism and how to prevent it, put time and money into accommodating and accepting autistic people. We do not wish to become neurotypical, we wish to change society so that we can be accommodated, accepted and included as autistic people. Our goal isn’t to become as close to neurotypical as possible, it is to get the opportunity to live happy, fulfilling lives as autistic people. It is society that needs to chance, not us.
3. We do not support Autism Speaks or their campaign #LightItUpBlueand neither should you. If you want to support autistic people, check out ASAN or Autism Women’s Network instead. If you want to know why Autism Speaks isn’t supported by autistic people, this post contains links to a lot of resources on the topic.
4. Functioning labels are inaccurate and harmful and they do not give a nuanced description of what kind of support an autistic person needs. Instead of calling an autistic person “high functioning” or “low-functioning” name the specific issues or strengths you’re referring to. Are they non-verbal? Say that. Are they able to manage a job? Say that. Are they unable to drive? Say that. Do not attempt to force us into two boxes, one of which are used to invalidate or struggles and ignore our deficits and the other one being used to ignore our assets and deny our humanity.
5. Non-verbal autistic people can and do learn to communicate using other communication forms than verbal speech and they’re all individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, wants and opinions. You do not get to speak on behalf of non-verbal autistic people. You do not get to assume that you know exactly what they think, want and feel, especially not when you have never made any effort to communicate with any of them. Instead of assuming that you know what non-verbal autistic people think and feel,
try listening to what they have to say by reading the words of some non-verbal autistic people such as @lysikanorAmy SequenziaorEmma Zurcher-Long.
6. ABA is harmful and abusive. The goal of ABA isn’t to help autistic people develop coping methods and helpful strategies, it is to train and force them into hiding their autistic traits by all means possible. If you do not see why this is a problem or if you want to learn more about why it is such a big problem, this masterpost by @neurowonderful contains a lot of resources on why ABA is harmful.
7. If you want to learn more about autism, listen to autistic people - not our parents, our siblings, our therapists our or caregivers. Autistic people are the ones who know the most about being autistic, so if you want to learn about autism we’re the ones you should ask. If you want to learn more about the different aspects of autism, @neurowonderful‘s youtube series “Ask An Autistic” is a good place to start. You can also send any questions you might have about autism to @askanautisticwhere autistic people are ready to answer them for you.
Please reblog this post to spread the word even if you do not plan to share anything else in connection with Autism Awareness Month.
(Image description: A partial screenshot of a blog post. The title reads “How I reduced screaming and verbal stimming in my child with autism”, and below that is a colour photograph of a hand holding a rectangular plastic “clicker” device.)
I think I may have mentioned this blog post, and the sadness and confusion I felt when I came across it, in one of my videos. This screenshot is from the blog of an “autism parent”. Yes, that is a clicker. Yes, she is encouraging the use of animal training methods on Autistic children. Yes, she considers any kind of vocal stimming, not just screaming, to be a “bad behaviour”. To top it all off, her blog banner reads, “Discovering SOLUTIONS to the Everyday Problems of Living with AUTISM”. Here is an excerpt from her tutorial on how to train your disabled child like a dog to have a “Quiet Mouth”:
Third, I sat back and watched my child. Since he was making bad noises, I decided to reinforce Quiet Mouth (i.e., lips together, no sound). Whenever he had a split second of Quiet Mouth, I immediately tagged (made a click-sound with the device) and handed over a treat. Every time his mouth was Quiet, I tagged (clicked) and treated. Soon there was much more Quiet Mouth behavior. When doing this it is important to ignore and pay no attention to vocal stims or screaming. Do not look at the child, do not speak to him/her or explain. Just say nothing, and immediately tag and treat as soon as there is even a split second of Quiet Mouth. You can also tag and treat a child for any appropriate vocalizations. If he/she says a nice word, or makes an appropriate comment, then tag and reinforce that. Your goal is to increase Quiet Mouth and appropriate vocalizations.
And sadly, as bad as this attitude and treatment of Autistic children is, this is a relatively tame example when compared to the other unethical treatments, therapies, and methods of discipline that Autistic children are being subjected to every day (all in the name of making them appear less obviously Autistic). This is why we need Autism Acceptance Month and not the fear-mongering, negative, misinformed “awareness” that Autism Speaks and its allies are pumping out this April.
We need acceptance because Autistic children should be loved and accepted wholly and completely for who they are, not hurt and mistreated in their parent’s frantic search for a “cure”. Because Autistic people deserve to be treated with respect and listened to, not silenced and forced or coerced to conform to an ableist, non-disabled ideal. Because Autistic children need accommodation and understanding to live healthy, happy lives, not sketchy “treatments” and intensive, soul-crushing “therapies” to try to make them appear more neurotypical and less Autistic.
I hear alot of people misinterpreting or misusing the term ‘autism spectrum’. So for Autism Acceptance week, I decided to make a comic to help explain the term and how it affects things. Archie is one of the reasons I became so interested/knowledgeable in autism (I like to go all out in research when I write characters for comics n such) so he’s the one presenting everything! The rest of the comic is under the cut, because I don’t want to spam ^^;
April is Autism Awareness Month, launched by Autism Speaks, an organization masquerading as a charity that has harmed autistic people and spread misinformation about autism for the last 10 years. Instead of supporting Autism Speaks and their campaigns, take some time out of April 2016 to educate yourself on why you shouldn’t support Autism Speaks and spread the word.
While this may be true, and I appreciate the sympathy, it also makes it hard for me to forgive myself.
If everyone has trouble making friends, why am I so often alone?
If everyone is overwhelmed by loud noises, why do restaurants and concerts and carnivals scare me? If everyone forgets and misuses words sometimes, why am I often incapable of getting others to understand what I’m trying to say? Does this mean I’m weak? Does this mean I’m lazy? Does this mean I’m not trying? No.
Because you may experience something once, but I experience it constantly.
Something may occasionally bother you, but it is a constant obstacle for me.
When I tell you something is hard for me, and you tell me it’s hard for everyone… You are not helping.
You are planting seeds of doubt. You are telling me all the work I put into surviving each day is worthless, because I shouldn’t have to do that work at all. Please. Don’t.
Whenever I write posts about autism, someone will reblog with a comment along the lines of “you have to remember that autism is a spectrum, ranging from extreme cases to mild Aspergers.” Here is a recent example.
It’s true that autism is a spectrum, but it’s not a spectrum of severity from low functioning to very mild. Autism is much more complicated than that.
There are a number of things that go into autism. It’s a combination of impairments in cognition, communication, sensory perception, and movement. These impairments combine in different ways. And “high functioning” and “low functioning” don’t accurately describe any of them.
All autistic people are disabled in significant ways, and it’s not always obvious how. There are a lot of stereotypes, and they’re misleading.
When Aspergers syndrome and autistic disorder where separate diagnoses, the primary difference was whether someone developed expressive language before or after the age of three. That doesn’t tell you anything important about their abilities. (Which is one reason they’ve been combined into Autism Spectrum Disorder into the DSM-V.)
One way stereotypes can be misleading: some nonspeaking autistic people have significantly better language comprehension than some autistic people who speak. (And you can’t tell from affect either: A student who spends all day rocking in a corner might be understanding significantly more than a student who spends all day sitting still at a desk.)
Autistic impairments can also change over time, or in times of stress.
Someone you think has “very mild Aspergers” may well have no ability to understand language when they’re upset. They may have severe auditory processing problems and be unable to watch TV without captions. They may be physically incapable of walking across a crowded room. They may have very little voluntary motion and be dependent on prompts in their environment. They might not be able to initiate interactions or independently tell you that they are injured or sick.
Not all autistic people do the thing I described in my post on noticing when repetition is communication. (And not all autistic repetition is for this reason). But it has nothing to do with severity. When an autistic person repeats the same thing over and over in a conversation with you, it’s very important to consider the possibility that they’re trying to communicate something but don’t currently have the words to get you to understand. This is true even if they live alone and five minutes ago they gave a complicated lecture on physics.
tl;dr Autism is a spectrum, but it’s not a simple severity spectrum.
I was aware of autism five years before I even started to consider that I could be autistic. It was six years of that awareness before I was diagnosed by a doctor who knew autism is a lot more complicated and varied than what fits neatly into “autism awareness” campaigns. I was never like the poster children for autism, who are white, cisgender boys (never adults) from (upper)middle-class families. I didn’t think I could be autistic until I found what actual autistic people had to say about autism.
Autism awareness, at least as it currently exists, fails a large segment of the autistic population. Most people aren’t white, cisgender boys. We need awareness that includes atypical autism traits. If I or my family had read that list of traits when I was fifteen, I might have realised I’m autistic a lot sooner and found the resources and support I need much sooner, too.
My autistic traits are atypical, and they’re full of contradiction. I’m intelligent and even good at language, even metaphorical and idiomatic language, but sometimes I can’t remember how to form sentences or forget words for everyday things like chairs or my own native language just starts to sound like complete gibberish. I struggle to answer “how are you?” but I’m often complimented on my self-awareness and understanding of both my own and other’s emotions. The tiniest sounds can distract me or give me a headache, but sometimes I can’t even hear someone shouting my name. Autism is inconsistent. It’s complicated.
If you want to know what autism looks like, if you want to spread real awareness, then you need to listen to the people who know autism best: autistic people. Maybe this “Autism Awareness Month,” instead of wearing blue, walking to raise money for a dangerous organisation, sharing stories meant to incite fear or pity, or putting blue ribbons on everything out of the irrational belief that ribbons solve everything (seriously, stop it; ribbons don’t cure cancer either)–instead of spreading unhelpful awareness created by non-autistic people, you can help spread and deepen awareness of what autism actually is by reading and sharing the accounts of actual autistic people.
Autistic people deserve love and basic human respect just like everyone else! I love all of you and respect you for all the things you have to deal with in life. Don’t let mean people get you down, you are safe here. 💕
We do need more autism awareness. But not the kind that Autism Speaks promotes.
We need awareness of what autism actually is, and that its cause is genetic, not environmental. We need awareness that it cannot be cured. We need awareness that it doesn’t need to be cured. We need awareness of what autism can look like in different people. We need awareness that it appears in people of color and women. We need awareness that autism stays present in adults. We need awareness of how to help autistic people with their problems.
Autism Speaks’ “awareness” doesn’t help with any of this. It is nothing more than fearmongering and it hurts autistic people rather than helping them.
Autism Speaks is, at best, the most elaborate con ever created. At worst, it is a hate group designed to discredit those with autism. They demonize those they claim to represent in order to steal your money. And they use that money to cure an imaginary disease, to fix people who don’t need fixing and to spread more ignorance and fear. Autistic people have no need for Autism Speaks. We can speak for ourselves.
We need your help! As you all may or may not know, we have another
younger brother named Sherose. Next month on May 22nd he’ll be turning
18. Sherose may be turning into an official adult, but he will always be
a child at heart and mind. Sherose was diagnosed with Autism when he
was around the age of 3, however as a family we have never let him feel
he was different from others while growing up. Although we have tried
our best to give Sherose the most normal lifestyle, we know
that Sherose does not have many friends nor has he gotten some
opportunities to be social or have close friends like other teenagers.
He doesn’t get invited to birthday parties, he doesn’t go out to play
sports, basic things that every teenager does. Every birthday, we spend
it together as a family, but I wanted something different for Sherose on
his 18th birthday. Anyone whom has gotten the chance to meet
Sherose will know that it is his friendliness and his excitement to meet
others is what stands out. He loves to talk to people, he likes to make
new friends. Since he was very young, he has had an obsession with
receiving items in the mail, with something addressed to him. Even if is
simple junk mail, or something I have bought for him online, his eyes
will light up when he sees his name on the envelope. He waits for the
mailman and personally gets the mail every day. Soha and I want to reach
out to our friends, acquaintances and the community. To see if you
could write a letter or send a birthday card for Sherose’s birthday. A
small “Happy Birthday” letter or card which can take 5 minutes of your
time, will mean the WORLD to him. Some of the things that Sherose loves
include: Transformers, Disney movies (He is a fanatic about movies),
Marvel and etc. If you would like to send Sherose something, the address
is below. I will hold all letters and cards until May 22nd and give
them to him on his Birthday. P.O. Box 5037 Springfield, VA 22150 If you can, please share this post!
If you leave in such a place where sending a letter or a post card is not possible or is difficult, I have made an email account for Sherose that I will print out messages from and add them to his collection of cards. It is:
I’d like to send a huge thank you to the wonderful Autistics and allies who shared their strategies and signal boosted this post! The article is now live, with advice from the Autistic community.
I’d like to note that this is a wiki article, and thus can be expanded. So if you have more to add, hop on over and add your ideas! (Here’s how.) I am the illustrator, and I’ll keep an eye on it in case it needs more pictures.
This article is one example of Autistic people supporting each other, and the things we can accomplish when we work together. I’d say “high five,” but… slapping your screen will leave marks, and cleaning those off is a pain.
Stay strong, stay safe, and stay awesome!
Please consider signal boosting so more people can see and be helped by this article.
Light It Up Blue is an annual reminder that Autism Speaks can't make us go away
Today is Autism Acceptance Day, and April is Autism Acceptance month. It’s also an annual reminder that we are strong, we are still here, and that attempts to eliminate us are failing. When they light it up blue, they’re admitting that they’re weak and they’re failing.
Autism Speaks and others who wish that autistic people didn’t exist think that it’s Autism Awareness Day. They’re calling us a public health crisis, and they’re trying to get others to agree with them and give them money. They want to get rid of us. They try to pretend they have any chance of succeeding.
I realized today that April 2nd is actually an annual reminder that, no matter how hard they try, they can’t actually get rid of us. When Autism Speaks supporters are turning on blue lights, what they’re really saying is that they have just spent another year wasting a lot of money in a completely futile attempt to get rid of us. They are acknowledging with those blue lights that we are still here, and that we’re not going anywhere.
We are more powerful than they want us to believe. We have persisted in existing despite their pervasive attempt to eliminate us. We are succeeding in spreading love and supporting one another in power and pride.
We are speaking up. We are being heard. People who care about autism, autistic people, education, and communication are listening. The tide is turning.
Their hate symbols are a sign that, even though we have far less money and far fewer resources, we are more powerful than their ineffectual attempts to make us go away. We are right, and we are strong, and we will be here long after Autism Speaks is gone. We ought to keep that in mind when we see the pathetic hate symbols they’re displaying today.
in honor of autism awareness month and all the extra ableism and misinformed people we have to deal with during this time
-Here’s to the autistics who have been deemed “low functioning” by neurotypicals. The autistics with a lot of communication problems, who can’t control their meltdowns, who can’t “pass as neurotypical” no matter how hard they try and have to deal with the way people treat them because of that
-Here’s to the autistics who have been deemed “high functioning.” The autistics who are passably verbal, who can control themselves through rigidly internalizing their symptoms, who can “pass for neurotypical” so well that they get accused of “faking it” when they choose to tell someone
-Here’s to the autistics who don’t want to socialize and prefer to do their own thing
-Here’s to the autistics who love to socialize and be with other people
-Here’s to the nonverbal autistics and the autistics who talk a mile a minute
-Here’s to the autistics where everything is basically sensory hell, who have to wear a jacket even in the hottest part of summer, or who can’t wear a jacket even in the coldest part of winter
-Here’s to the autistics who had to hide their symptoms to survive their childhood, and to the autistics who were encouraged to express themselves and be who they were
-Here’s to the autistics with comorbid mental and/or physical health problems who don’t even know how to differentiate their symptoms anymore
-Here’s to autistics, because even though we all experience autism differently at different places on the wide spectrum, and even though people give us so much crap and like to generalize us and/or pit us against each other as if it’s some weird competition, we’re all freaking awesome and we deserve all the best things in life. So don’t let the neurotypicals get you down because we matter, we’re amazing, and we’re so strong.