Autistic Pride: We need our spaces to remain ours

I’m a day late in writing this for Autistic Pride if I go by Australian time, but for the rest of the world, I’m right on time.

[As an aside, time zones are very weird.]

As most people know, Autistic people have carved out small pieces of the internet to create our own spaces which are exclusively for Autistic people. They’re places where non-autistic parents, friends, and allies are not welcome. They’re places where we get to just be Autistic without having to prove anything to anyone. They’re places where we can take time away from the rest of the world to vent our frustrations, to bond with people like us, and to support each other while we heal.

From time to time, a non-autistic parent enters one of those spaces. It’s always a parent; never a friend or extended family member. A parent. It seems as though some non-autistic parents feel entitled to our spaces. It seems as though they feel like they deserve to be there.

These parents aren’t warmly welcomed, and once discovered, they’re quickly removed from our spaces. This might seem a little exclusionary, but we need our spaces to remain ours.

So why are we exclusionary when it comes to Autistic only spaces?

We need our spaces to remain ours because we need a space where our lives aren’t being examined by non-autistic people that want to learn from us. We need a break from being everyone’s teachable moments. We need to be able to just be without explanation. We need to be able to express our thoughts without non-autistic people telling us we’re eloquent (which always seems to carry the implication of “you write well for a r*t*rd”).

We need our spaces to remain ours because there are people in our communities who are struggling to various degrees. We aren’t struggling because we’re autistic; we’re struggling because the world is not designed for people like us. Our spaces are. Our spaces accommodate our differences. Our spaces are free from societal norms that say things have to be said and done in specific ways to be acceptable.

We need our spaces to remain ours because it takes time to practice being proud. You don’t become proud overnight when you have grown up in a world that continually reinforces the idea that you’re broken. We need to be able to support each other with that without having to stop and educate non-autistic people.

We have spaces to educate and interact with non-autistic people. They’re there with minimal looking. The internet is teeming with autistic bloggers. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of us. Non-autistic parents, friends, and allies are welcome in those spaces. Sure, there are rules in place for most of those spaces to ensure that the autistic people who hang out there don’t get hurt. They’re generally clearly written and are guidelines of what is acceptable and unacceptable in those shared spaces. This doesn’t seem unfair when you consider how many unwritten rules there are in society that change depending on way too many variables than can be calculated at any given moment. Our rules are clear. Our spaces clearly defined.

The entire world is there for non-autistic parents to be listened to, so please let us have our spaces and let them remain ours.