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nightengalesknd

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Nov. 1st, 2016

Like so many events in autistic history, Autistics Speaking Day started as a protest. Like so many events, it has grown into so much more. Read more here: http://autisticsspeakingday.blogspot.co.uk/

Writing the Brochure I Want to Read in the World

I want a brochure I can hand families of newly diagnosed autistic children. Something readable, 3-4 pages, giving accurate information and guiding parents on a starting pathway. I say all sorts of things about autism in my visits, but often parents don’t seem to hear much after the word “autism.” A handout would change that.

There are documents that already exist, of course, that claim to do just this.

I can’t use any of them.

I’ve started to write my own. I got about two pages in and then other, more time sensitive obligations swam into view. I need to go back and finish.

In the meantime I’m recommending “The Real Experts.” It was written by autistic adults for the parents of newly diagnosed children, I say.

I’m not sure the words “autistic adults” register.

And I’m saying that many autistic people find eye contact painful, not to mention it is difficult to focus on what someone is saying if forced to make eye contact at the same time.

I’m not sure if my voice and the voice of those I’m quoting is louder than that of their (presumably neurotypical) speech therapist.

I’m not sure they hear me reference the local advocacy group run by autistics or register that I recommend a website for stim toys run by an autistic person or that the conference I’m describing was run by and for autistic people.

Because other, louder, more privileged voices have gotten to them first.

So many of us are speaking now. We’re writing books and writing blogs and organizing ourselves, online and off. I come home from work, where people were talking about autism all day, and curl up to a night of autistic people talking. We had a whole table full of books by autistic authors (auti-biographies, if you will) at our celebration last spring.

But for us to reach the audience of impressionable parents of impressionable young children, we need to be heard. We need them to hear the fact that we are even here to be heard.

And so I reference autistic people speaking (writing, typing, blogging) a lot, often just in casual speech, hoping that it will start to sound comfortable and familiar and expected that a supposed expert on autism references autistic people as a matter of course.

And at some point I am going to sit down and finish that brochure. Because when the parents get home and put their young children to bed and are ready to listen, the first words I want them to read are ours.
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