I’ve noticed a little bit of a worrying trend. Many Australian autistic people (myself included – I’m not pointing fingers) tend to focus so much on American autistic people that we lose focus of the things that are happening here, right in our own backyard.
This is probably because American autistic people are really inspiring. They have strong voices and they have more experience at dealing with these types of things than we do. But, are we forgetting our own stuff while we amplify their voices?
[CN for the below: All links have been linked through donotlink because I do not want to drive traffic to their sites. Most of these links contain pathologising language and general all-round horribleness]
A look around tells me that we have a lot of our own stuff that we could be focusing on:
- Recently, Australian Skeptics hosted an Autism myths vs reality dinner. Their key speaker to dispel the myths of autism was not an actually autistic person. She is someone who is actively involved in an organisation that promotes the normalisation of autistic children. She’s also involved in this, which the website tells me is Australia’s leading ABA provider. I don’t think she’s the correct person to dispel the myths surrounding autism.
- We have autism research centres publishing things about preventing autism.
- We have peak bodies who go on strange anti-bullying campaigns that seem to lay blame on the victim of bullying rather than the actual bully. The same organisations which focus on the plight of parents, rather than focusing on actually autistic people. And, just so you don’t think I’m only referring to one autism peak body, here’s the website of another one which features the offensive puzzle piece.
- We have this expo which is so parent focused I think maybe the organisers have forgotten about who actually experiences autism (hint: it’s not the parents).
- There is this weird idea. I actually can’t say any more about that weird idea. It’s weird.
And, those are not the full extent of things happening in Australia which actually affect us. That’s probably not even half. That list is simply limited to the things on my mind right now.
I want to be clear though: I’m not saying that we need to abandon our fellow autistics in America. I have bucket loads of respect for what they do, and how they do it. I’m just saying that we need to carefully consider whether our focus on helping them with the issues that affect Americans means that we’re neglecting our own back yard.
I think it’s time to tend to our own back yard. Don’t you?