A blow was aimed at the freedoms of Autistic people last night in a Twitter Poll by so called Autism organisation Autism Speaks. It was designed to push their agenda of using person-first language when talking about autism. i.e. 'person with autism' or the 'person has autism'. Despite having been told times beyond counting over many years by the Actually Autistic community that this language attacks their fundamental human rights, this Twitter Poll was still given the go-ahead. Well, how spectacularly it backfired. A huge majority of those polled voted to defend their right to describe themselves as they choose: with identity-first language. i.e. I am Autistic.
Word of the tweet spread like wildfire throughout the Twitter sphere and autistics came out in force to vent their fury. They were incensed that once again, their feelings had been ignored, in this clear attempt to overwrite their clearly stated views. Out of the 3,667 people who voted, 82% of those polled voted for ‘I am autistic’.
Hundreds of outraged autists commented, registering their disgust that this question should still be asked, after the Actually Autistic community making their wishes known for many years now. Many voiced their anger that the largest organisation that claims to ‘speak’ for the ‘Autism community’ still upholds this ableist view. What is Ableism? It is discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities. It is defined by the attempts of so called Autism organisations to define autistics by their disabilities and therefore remove their own rights to self-determination and self-preservation. These are the organisations that insist autism is a disease to be exterminated (And therefore the future autistic generations as well). These organisations claim to, but do not represent the views of autistic people. Autism Speaks know our views, but they still seek any opportunity to manufacture evidence to the contrary. This was the epitome of Ableism. That is when non-disabled people talk down to those with disabilities or talk over them, imposing their own views on them and robbing them of their freedom of choice.
To us, the Actually Autistic community, it is not an attachment, nor a burden, nor a disease. It is defined as a different neurotype, meaning it is a difference in a diverse world. Autism is simply our identity. There is no way to separate autism from us. We are not 'with autism', we are with our families, our friends, our cats and our dogs. We do not 'have' autism, but we are autistic. It defines us and runs through our very being. Without it, we would not be the people that we are. And we are not listening to those who would have us be ashamed or diminished by our identity any more. We are autistic and proud. We will continue to speak out against those that would force their views upon us and would seek to override our voices, our wishes and our dreams.