(I originally posted this on facebook, but decided I want to share it here as well, with a slight bit of editing.)
I’m glad this issue is getting discussed, but especially that they interviewed John Elder Robison (one of my favorite celebrity autistic activists — but also a high-end auto mechanic and author).
The story itself was pretty problematic, because in trying to tell “both sides” they effectively have ignored the reason that so many autistic adults have to speak about the abuse of autistic children.
This excerpt gives a good example of this:
I feel very strongly that the complaints by mildly affected autistic adults that parents are violating their kids’ privacy by writing about them represent the most insidious form of censorship,” said Amy Lutz, a Pennsylvania author, mom of a 22-year-old severely autistic son and vice president of the National Council on Severe Autism. “Severely autistic individuals don’t have the capacity to consent, therefore parents are forbidden to speak about them, therefore the only voice the public is supposed to hear is that of autistic adults who claim to speak for the entire spectrum.
My response — sorry, but Amy Lutz is wrong. “Severely” autistic people can and should exercise as much autonomy as possible, including having a voice in health care decisions and in stopping their parents from sharing confidential information online. Even non-verbal autistic people often can communicate in a variety of ways and they should be allowed to speak and make decisions to the greatest extent possible. — And let’s be frank, too many children end up being abused when we quit listening to them.
Also — autistic people who can speak verbally (like myself) do not claim to speak for all autistic people and their needs and desires (because how can we? — our community is so big and diverse, with so many different needs and desires), but we will continue to speak UP for the need to HEAR all autistic people, even non-verbal folks and others who are labeled as being “severe.”
I will also admit that some of the problem in this “war” is a matter of communication styles. Some neurotypical parents are used to being talked to in deferential ways, while many Autistic people don’t believing in BS’ing just to be “nice” when human rights are at stake. Still I think there is something to be said for diplomacy, particularly when directly confronting problematic behavior by those who are simply ignorant (but not malicious).
But for those who are actively organizing against us, it’s time for confrontation not diplomacy.