Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reclaiming Our Autistic Children #BoycottAutismSpeaks

Ignorance is not bliss, when you are a parent to Autistic children. I knew nothing about Autism once, and I was afraid. Afraid as in beyond the significance of my life. It was my children, and any decent parent understands how much more important our children are. I know something about Autism now, enough to set my fears down. It hasn't been easy. It has been three years of remedying my ignorance. Three years of rejecting the information sent for me. Three years of seeking the truth about Autism. I commit to learn forever more because I would do anything for my children. I have even said out loud "I would step in front of a train for them." I put it in writing today. I don't give it a second thought. It's simply true. Today, I step in front of the train that is Autism Speaks, and ask you to do the same. We must reclaim our Autistic children.

Why was I afraid upon learning that my children were Autistic? Short and not sweet at all; we live in an ableist society and I was ableist too. Like most privileged people, I was not even aware of the concept of ableism, the reality of it. Our society dehumanizes the disabled. Our society refuses to accommodate and include the disabled. Our society fears, pities, and even hates the disabled. I was afraid because the idea that I would have disabled children never occurred to me. That only happened to "other" people. I thought that having Autistic children was some how less than having non-Autistic children, that our lives would be less. I was so entrenched in the shallow, selfish, and privileged values our society taught me that I could not understand the source of my fear was my own acceptance of those values. I accepted ableism and that made it impossible for me to accept my children.

Who propagates ableism in our society?

Who fosters it, projects it, strengthens it in the minds of so many?

Who is served by ableism?

In the Autism community it is easy to identify. It is the organization, which holds the most power, Autism Speaks. They have the privilege, they have the platform, they have the money, and they have set the values. It is not the Autistic child they value, despite having the word Autism in their name.

If they valued Autistic children, they would not compare them to the gravely ill or injured, nor be dedicated to finding a cure. They would be promoting neurodiversity, acceptance, and appreciation for all life.

If they valued Autistic children, they would not be pushing for therapies like Applied Behavior Analysis, which are based in conformity and normalization. They would instead be creating accommodations and advocating for inclusion within our segregated public education system.

If they valued Autistic children, they would not call them burdens or a tragedies that break up marriages and destroy families. They would be authentically supporting Autistic children and their families, spending more money on them, as opposed to advertisement.

If they valued Autistic children, they would not allege that they are an epidemic, while silencing adult Autistics to further this lie. They would be serving Autistic adults, listening to them, relying on Autistic leadership for guidance, and furthering connections between generations.

Parents of Autistic children, do you share the values of Autism Speaks, or do you value your children? Did they get to you while you were still afraid, and you unknowingly stepped onto their train of ableism? Because it is sick, and it is mind controlling, and it is a tragedy, and it is an epidemic of destruction that Autism Speaks is cultivating within our families, within our community, and within our society. Autism Speaks came after my vulnerable heart. They scared me and scarred me. They damaged my relationship with my sons. They project fear and hate into the world that my sons must live in. They came after you too, and they do this to every parent of Autistic children. I don't believe that decent parents share the same values as this awful organization. I would not be here putting it in writing if I did. I believe, and it has been proven time and time again, Autism Speaks is served by our ignorance. They line their pockets with it.

There are some that view Autism Speaks as a parent support organization, justifying it's existence even though it does nothing to help Autistic people, but I protest that. It is not assisting parents to strengthen our fear, ignorance, and ableism. It does not comfort us to think of our child as lost. It does not improve the quality of our lives to focus our energies into the absurd notion of curing a neurological variant. It does not elevate our ability to parent to run us through the therapy wringer so that our children can someday be indistinguishable from their peers. It does not build us up to describe our relationships as strained and broken because of Autism. It does not help us to shout to our government that we are merely existing, not living. It does not advance us to be manipulated into earning money with walks and fundraisers in order to perpetuate their cycle of destruction. Autism Speaks does not support parents in raising healthy and happy Autistic children.

We must reclaim our children because Autism Speaks has the privilege, platform, and money, but under the guise of helping, they are using it to make life harder for Autistic people. Our children need supports and accommodation, but all the money is being sent to this unethical organization.

We must reclaim our children because Autism Speaks is speaking over Autistic voices, and those voices are just what our society, our community, and we ourselves need, in order to progress beyond our ableist ways. Our children need Autistic voices, because that is how they will learn their own.

We must reclaim our children because Autism Speaks interferes in our sacred parent child relationships, telling us that our own flesh and blood is wrong, is lost, is less. Our children need us to believe in them, love them, and accept them, more than they need anything else.

We must reclaim our children because they are valuable and precious despite Autism Speaks declaring them a tragedy, a burden, a crisis. Our children need safety from such stigma, so they can offer their beautiful contribution to this world, what ever that offering may be.

We must reclaim our children because they don't deserve to be treated the way the way Autism Speaks treats Autistic people. Our children, and all Autistics, deserve acceptance, respect, and dignity, not fear, not pity, and not hate.

We must reclaim our children because Autism Speaks causes harm, and this damage will last their lifetime and longer, unless we parents join the chorus of Autistic voices rejecting the "charity." Our children need freedom out from under Autism Speaks' lies.

Step with me, in front of the train that is Autism Speaks.

You don't have to be afraid.

Reclaim your child, your children.

We must reclaim our Autistic children.

Visit the Boycott Autism Speaks Website for more information, and sign the petition while you are there.

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Sharon. You have done so much for me. <3

  2. 50 and aspie,people are are afraid of something the don,t understand after all we are not so easy to mind control.
    jeff ..

  3. i know this sounds horrible, but i would give anything for my son to have a twin, an unconditional friend, who understood exactly what he is going through. Being 13 and non-verbal is a very lonely time for him, and I do not see it changing anytime soon. :(

    1. It doesn't sound horrible. It sounds real. My boys are each other's gifts. It's a very fortunate thing that I am thankful for. I wish your son well. I hope he can connect with other Autistic people and find that understanding and friendship he deserves. Let me know if I can help in any way. <3