Hey Alan! I just saw a post about different types of allistics on my dash... one of them was "The 'Ally'™". I'm allistic and I want to know how I can be a good ally, so I thought I'd ask about certain things mentioned in the post so i can avoid doing them! What are person first language and functioning labels and what can I do as an allistic to be an actual ally (not an “Ally"™)? Thanks so much!
okay, first of all, I’m going to assume that you meant [this post]. If not, sorry. Second, I’m not going to get this perfect. I’m viewing this as a bit of a first draft, which (note to self) I will edit at some point.
definitions: person-first language is “person with autism” as opposed to “autistic person”. Please use “autistic person”. I dealt with functioning labels later in this disorganized hell-post.
So here’s my stab at allistic ally 101
1) You follow the same rules as if you were an ally for any other group: [Here’s a pretty good ally 101 article], but it’s not the end-all-be-all. Keep listening to autistic voices, and if we contradict the rules hold our voices higher.
Also, above all, rule #1 of allyship is don’t be a shithead–come to conversations with the intention to listen and learn first and treat us like human beings (this is particularly critical with disability rights)
2) Our voices are the important ones: this is important with being an ally to any group, but autistic people often struggle to communicate or express ourselves. Be patient. Ask people how they’d like to communicate and be prepared to be a bit flexible.
Some autistic people use AAC (Alternative or Assistive Communication), and their voices matter just as much as verbal people’s. You don’t have to learn ASL or anything, but don’t assume that because someone’s not communicating verbally they’re less intelligent or competent. And, even if someone can’t communicate using language (or communicate at all) don’t assume that they don’t have thoughts, feelings, and needs.
3) Nothing about us without us: knowing an autistic person doesn’t make you an expert on autism. BEING an autistic person makes you an expert on autism. If you see anything claiming to help autistic people that doesn’t prominently feature Actual Autistic People, don’t support it (unless Actual Autistic People are telling you to support it, see #2)
This goes double for any charitable organization focused on autism which leads me into point number 4 (also from here on out things are a bit smaller-scope, that doesn’t make them less important):
My autism is part of who I am. It is not something “extra” that can be taken away from me to suit the agenda of an intolerant society. My abilities, challenges and perception of the world all go hand in hand. If I were to be “cured” of my autism, the person that I am would cease to exist.
so yeah cure = bad, acceptance and accommodation = good
6) Celebrate the things that make autistics unique: lately, tumblr has gotten a lot more stim-positive, but stimming isn’t solely a pretty, paint-mixing or slime video (in fact, stimboards are rarely tagged and can overstimulate the SHIT out of me).
A lot of time, stimming is viewed as ugly, distracting, loud, disgusting, or socially unacceptable. Support your local autistics, don’t expect people to stop stimming and try not to stare or comment (many autistic people have to work very hard to reclaim stimming after childhoods of expecting to suppress it entirely).
Also, try your best to support different cognitive styles and processing issues. Try to keep your websites accessible, provide image transcripts, try not to make posts that are entirely text in images (like screenshots of twitter posts), and help to subtitle videos if you can. <- these things also help d/Deaf people and anyone who accesses the internet via a screenreader
7) steer clear of stereotypes: I’m not rain man or that dude on the big bang theory or your cousin’s dentist’s sister’s younger brother’s son. The ‘idiot savant’ stereotype is almost never true and puts unreasonable expectations on autistic people. Also, not all of us are good at math or science, have incredible memories, etc. Fitting or not fitting stereotypes don’t change the fact that every autistic person is human and deserves rights and respect.
8) functioning labels are fake: never listen to anyone who describes autism as “high” or “low functioning”. Every autistic person has struggles, and putting labels on functioning basically sorts people into “can be ignored” and “subhuman”. [here’s about a million posts about why they suck because if I put it all here this post would be five times as long]
9) ABA is trash: this is trigger territory for a huge number of autistic people, so [here] and I’m not going to say anything else just take my word on this one
10) If it has puzzle pieces on it, run: if you’re looking to see if a group is okay, look for the rainbow infinity sign. The puzzle piece is a huge red flag. Please don’t support anything with puzzle pieces on it. Please. I’m begging you.
Okay that was WAAY longer than I meant it to get, sorry. Also, I’ve missed a bunch of things, but I’ve been working on this for an hour and I don’t have the energy to add more. I’ll throw this in #actuallyautistic and hopefully someone else can add anything important I missed.