This post is not inspired by anything in particular. Rather it’s more of a final-straw rant that I need to get out so that I can get back to work on a huge assignment.
A very common silencing technique employed against autistic adults/advocates when we criticize the way autistic kids are treated is to comment that we’re not experts in the field.
And, yes. Many of us are not experts in autism academia. But you know what we are experts in? Being autistic. Living while autistic. Looking at stuff from the autistic point of view.
Think about that before you try to shut us up by telling us we aren’t “experts” in “anything” because you feel our perspective is an attack on your parenting skills or what have you. I have 26 years of experience in being autistic. You, Mx Allistic Parent of an Autistic Kid, have none. I have valid experience and perspective to offer on this.
And, for the record: when I talk about how being pressured to fit in hurt me, or how my parents often missed critical context to situations, or whatever else have you, I don’t do that to attack you. I do that to lend the perspective of my life experience to your situation, to encourage you to think about things from your kid’s point of view, and mostly, to help prevent other people’s parents from making the same mistakes mine did. That’s not an attack. I’m trying to help your kid. When other autistic people do that (and there are a lot of them, the previous four links being only a small sampling of autistic perspectives out there), they’re not doing it to attack you, they’re doing it to help your kid.
If you take my perspective as an attack, the fault lies not with me for not sitting down and shutting up like a good (compliant, docile, normal) girl while the real (allistic) people talk. It lies with you for viewing the perspective of one with less power than you as an attack. If you’re a person of color, consider how you’d feel if a white person asked you snidely whether you’re an anthropologist when you complain about offensive/harmful shit white people do. If you’re a woman, consider how you’d feel if a man asks snidely about whether you have evidence that sexism exists. If you, yourself have a disability or chronic illness, consider how you feel when a CAB person asks snidely if you’re an engineer or public health expert when you comment about an access fail. And so on. Use that perspective to reconsider your reaction to the words of autistic adults and advocates when we offer our perspectives. Yeah, I might not know all the academic jargon, but I sure as shit know my life.