As you can see this is a letter that I am writing to you in the HOPE that putting these everyday and constant thoughts onto paper I have on a daily may or might change between you and I. A change that may open up our eyes wider to see the bigger picture and/or problems that we all face today. We know that there are a lot of issues and problems that we all face today. The question is who is it to blame for all these issues and problems that we encounter everyday and that we face everyday of what has happened in the past and present?
Just to let you know before I continue writing this letter and share this to the world. I’m speaking only for me, as an Aspie, but I believe that there are others like me that has something to say as well. They may like to write to you as well or even share with you their feelings and thoughts about you and state their case and or claims too and hopefully they’ll be listened to closely as well.
I believe wholeheartedly that I may have carried you around for a very long time without knowing or realising that you were there and existed in my life. To be honest, I thought I got rid of you before you wrecked havoc in my life for a period of time in my life where no one will know me or my existence.
Only to find a great number of the rest of the world still wielded you like a social axe with sharp oppression edges and it’s like dying the death of a million paper cuts that we cut ourselves everyday.
I was at least young to wake up and realise when I very first noticed you, but you were there from birth. You morphed into a massive weight around my neck as I aged. I wore you like a restrictive, chafing Elizabethan neck collar as well as a chafing Elizabethan corset. I thought you were necessary in my eyes because the world around me did. No one told me to rip you off and be proud until my 30’s in which I am now in my 30s.
Sometimes I find myself still picking you back up and wearing you again. Just like an old worn work shirt. Like the one you might choose to wear when doing a dirty, unlikeable task in our everyday life.
So in the interests of trying to dispatch you into the void of the past, I’d like to ask you to stop doing some things.
Sometimes you are like an invisible radio, you broadcast these things through other people, but the signal is sometimes just accepted. It’s time to change the channel, change the signal.
Sometimes you broadcast your poisonous frequency from abled people and sometimes from other disabled people – so however you broadcast them, the list is the same.
Impairment judgement. You don’t and won’t get to judge:
- How Autistic I am. Those with genuine expertise or lived experience don’t use high and low functioning anymore. With “high” and “low” you set me up to fail or have certain expectations of me so low I cannot achieve – either way you then use inappropriate measures of me to incorrectly prove your prejudice. Ask questions if you must (or maybe just read this list and apply it!), it’s better than rank some assumption.
- How I speak or even if I speak at all. You also don’t get to interpret my innate directness as rude. I can be hyperverbal, a chatterbox and I can want to not talk to anyone. It’s not your call to make, whether this is necessary or not. I can communicate with you whether verbal or not, but it might not be in way you expect or how you expect it. Give my communication the same respect as any form of communication and take time to appreciate it. Speech is not the only form of communication and Autistic communication is different (not deficit).
- How I think or process information. There isn’t one way to think. I may seem to go around things in a different way, but what I produce, what I do, and what I say (or not say) are valid. Thinking is not measured against the neurotypical only.
- How my senses operate and how I take care of my environment. You don’t get to decide if it’s too bright, too loud or too many people in a space for me. Or whether I should force eye contact or not (I’m doing my best to look at your glasses or eyebrows usually, then looking away regularly). I get to decide how I manage that, and I do know what hurts me. I can not change my sensory parameters to suit yours, I am not a machine with dials and switches anymore than you are. I cannot step out of my senses.
- How social I am or am not. To you it’s anti-social, to me it’s self-care. My need for solitude, peace and privacy is not your business. I also am not in need of a dinner companion because you have decided it’s lonely. I will seek the company of other people when I want and if I can. My social boundaries are different, not wrong.
- What I call myself. You can say “person with autism”, but to me autism isn’t something separate from me and it is not something to be ashamed of. For me, I am autistic or autistic person. Or as I classically call myself everyday an Aspie.
- How I do a task. I know what I can do, so don’t exclude me from a task because it is too “stressful” “challenging” for me based on your limited judgement of me or without checking with or in with me first. This happens to autistic people even when we are skilled and qualified and have a proven track record. I also deserve to try something now and modify a task to fit my known workarounds and ways I use aids and accommodations to suite my needs. I also deserve the right to abandon a task if it does get too much for me. I will seek support if and when I need it. Don’t make these decisions for me.
Assistance Policing. This is my final ask. You don’t get to decide:
- How I do or don’t use aids or accommodations. Using communication techniques or social scripts that I have learned from the neurotypical world are my choice to use as I see fit. They are no different to any other disability aid. I won’t use them all the time. But when I need to feel safe it is my right to use them like a semi-ambulant persons uses a stick at times and then sometimes not. Give me that right to decide for myself.
- Whether I’m masking. I’ve had people counsel me about the dangers of masking or think I am being untrue to my nature when I use communication aids and tools. I know “masking” can hurt me by ruining my health especially my mental health and I know my “rudeness or directness or realness” is perfectly okay for me as I accept who I am with all my faults, flaws and imperfections. I also know that after years of abuse from neurotypical people I tend to start slowly and may mask for self-preservation. I’ve made the decision to mask from time to time to feel safe and that is my darn given right. Sometimes I will choose to mask because I know logically (if not emotionally) that I may offend (on a given topic). I ask neurotypical people to take time to get to know my communication styles as well and sometimes I need to do that for them too. I pick my own battles (sometimes poorly!) and that’s my right also. I pick my own battles to know which one to keep fighting and any to let go or give up if need be! Make no mistake, I will not always mask. One form of oppression doesn’t need to be matched with another.
So, Dear Ableism, to be completely autistic, or even as said to be complete Aspie, I’ve had enough of you. This is my last communication to you and I wish you well and hope that you shall and will not return anymore in my life.
Do not reply. Go hastily into the night or day and do not forever return.