Why we need our allies

My infographic from the other day was shared by Unstrange Mind on Facebook, and it led to some debate, so I wanted to explain why I made that infographic, and also explain what I meant by allies.

Why do we need our allies?

Specifically, in Australia, the neurodiversity movement is small, and it consists of very few people. The autism peaks do not seem to have any autistic representation. They appear to exist solely to amplify the voices of so-called ‘autism parents’. They’re not really that interested in hearing from autistic people because they only want to make money from awareness campaigns designed around the concept that autism is a tragedy.

Many autistic people in Australia are still caught up in the pathology paradigm – they see their autism as a deficit, and they can’t see that it is society that disables them. They still see the inherent part of their autistic selves as the disabling thing. I’m not trying to point fingers, or lay blame. I think that it is probably quite a natural assumption given the way that autism is spoken about in this country.

So, that’s why we need our allies. We need non-autistic people who are also able to accept us for who we are completely so that we don’t just look like a bunch of angry autistics railing against the injustice of our society.

What do I mean by allies?

It’s probably easier to explain what I don’t mean. I don’t mean people who claim a status of being an ally without doing anything to support that status. I don’t mean parents who claim to be allies while simultaneously claiming that they’re “autism warriors”

I mean those genuine people, be they neurotypical or neurodivergent and allistic, those people who are prepared to stand with autistic people and say “Everyone deserves to be seen as equal”, “Everyone needs and deserves to be supported in order to access society on an equal basis”. Those people are rare.

The neurodiversity movement in Australia is small, but it is growing – and I hope that we won’t alienate people along the way.

Update: Since writing this post, I have written a lot more about allies, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really like the term ally. I was wrong in the way I was thinking about things in this post, but I’m leaving it unedited because it shows the progression of my thinking.