I have learnt some very important lessons this year.
I’ve not stood in my truth in the ways that I need to in order to honour myself as an autistic person.
And I want to apologise for that.
Both to those of you who come here seeking positive autistic identity and to myself.
This will always be an ongoing process of unlearning, uncovering, undoing.
It will mean people won’t approve of me.
It will mean I won’t be as palatable as people might like.
I have been exposed to some really icky, harmful messaging around autism.
It’s out there and we all see it, all the time.
And I'm now taking special care to avoid it.
I've been a token autistic person in people's events,
I've been confronted after speaking on stage and told I'm too invested in autism acceptance,
I've been emailed horrific images of children that I refuse to describe,
And I've tried and tried to overcome it.
I've been afraid to speak about it honestly
and to be real about how it affects me.
It is traumatic.
It is SO painful.
It keeps me awake at night,
feeds my anxiety.
Causes me to panic over my childrens' futures.
Here’s what so many people don’t understand..
Autism is my identity. It is my culture.
It is more than a pathological diagnosis to me and to so many others.
This looks different for every person and I can only speak for myself.
I am tired.
I am tired of hearing:
“That’s not real autism”
“You’re high functioning, what’s your problem?”
“Autism is caused by bla bla bla”
I’ve been patient.
I’ve been kind.
I’ve been open minded.
I’ve been diplomatic.
And in that process,
I have dismissed myself.
And I’m tired.
Because it doesn’t matter how an autistic person responds to ableist commentary, suggestions, ideas and media..
The problem is always going to be about the autistic person, isn’t it?
No matter how nice we are, accepting we are, authentic we are, open we are.
Imagine for a moment having people all over the world speaking out against you.
Imagine the media propagating ridiculous, generalising, stereotypical myths about you every day.
Imagine reaching out and sharing your experience and putting your hand up to engage in what you consider important discussions about you and your future with people who don’t understand you.
Then imagine reading that you are rigid, angry, black and white, lacking empathy, misunderstanding, personalising, catastrophising..
Or any of the other groups of words attached to autistic people when they stand up for themselves in order to imply that due to our neurology,
Our experience is unreliable.
I am tired.
I’ve reconsidered my personal and professional boundaries.
I won’t tolerate comments stating “Everybody does this, this is normal, everyone is a bit autistic, etc”.
I won’t present or speak for any organisation whose message is potentially harmful and counteracts positive autistic identity.
Autistic people are people.
We have the right to decide we are worthy, whole and complete people.
I will no longer entertain, accommodate or engage in any form of discussion that moves away from positive autistic identity.
And I won’t justify or qualify this either.
I love my community, I love engaging with the wonderful people who visit my space.
I am grateful for you all.
I encourage questions about language, terminology, autistic culture and identity, and I don’t dismiss the varied experiences we are all having.
But the amount of time I take moderating disrespectful comments is not okay.
It is not okay.
I’m still the same person.
I just won’t pretend anymore to be okay with all that isn’t okay.
Thank you for your understanding and respect.