As far as labels go, I’ve got lots of them. But the label that seems to subsume all labels (aside: picture a Pac Man eating little white dots) is autism. According to the button on my backpack, I am autistic and badass.
I am an ardent supporter of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is the “radical” idea that neuro-atypicals are people — people who have rights, people who provide valuable perspectives, people who regard the world in perhaps different, but certainly not lesser, ways. Neurodiversity is analogous to a social model of disability, the idea that exclusionary social systems and structures are far more disabling than individual impairments.
I am against the idea that autism should be cured or prevented. I regard autism as something inseparable from myself, as a condition intrinsic to my very being. Autism presents me with challenges, yes — it isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. But autism is also how I understand and interact with the world around me, how I sense things, how I order information and make meaning. Eradicating my autism would be akin to eradicating me.
Protesting Autism Speaks
From 2009-2011, I directed the Central Ohio chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). On three occasions, our chapter has protested Autism Speaks and
- its eugenic aims (its goal to “eradicate,” in the words of its founder, autistic people),
- its unrepresentative leadership (there are no autistic people in leadership or decision-making roles), and
- its lack of community support (only 4% of their funding goes to families and local communities).
Our local ASAN chapter has received widespread local press coverage. For example, our October 2010 protest was featured on ABC 6, and our April 2010 protest was covered in the Summer 2010 issue of Ology magazine [PDF].
The videos below, created by our chapter, chronicle our protests at Ohio State in 2010 and 2011.
October 9, 2011 (camera work and editing by me)
October 10, 2010 (camera work by Nick J., edited by me)
April 20, 2010 (camera work and editing by me)