This post was first published on the AAPD intern blog.
here are some things a lot of people don’t know about me:
About twice a
month I walk in front of a moving car by accident. About twice a month I choke
Here’s another interesting thing: when I try to talk
about autism, and why I as an autistic person should have a voice in the
discussion of autism, some non-autistic parents and professionals get mad at me.
They say, “You’re a college student, you clearly don’t have the same kinds of
problems that someone with Real Autism does. Your autism must be so mild that
you are irrelevant to this conversation.” And then they start talking about what
Real Autism looks like, often referencing their own children, and they’ll say
things like “My kid has Real Autism that is so very real, he is unaware of
dangers and might wander into the street and get hurt!” or “I worked with this
little girl who had Real Autism, and she was a choking risk because she had
difficulty swallowing!” And then they say “Clearly, these things never happen to
you, because you can write a research paper.”
I don’t understand the
ideas people have about disability sometimes.
Like, obviously not all
autistic people are the same, and our disability affects us all a bit
differently. But at the same time I find it frustrating that when disabled
people try to advocate for ourselves, we are often immediately dismissed as “not
disabled enough” just by virtue of the fact that we have opinions we want to
express. This doesn’t just happen in discussions about autism – I’ve seen people
with all kinds of disabilities be accused of being “not disabled enough for your
opinion to count” when they start talking about their rights.
So today I
was in Starbucks spitting coffee on myself and coughing, and people were asking
me if I was okay and I wanted to say “I’m fine, this happens all the time,” but
I couldn’t really breathe enough to talk. And what I was thinking about, as I
recovered from my accidental attempt to breathe frappucino, was how angry it
makes me that so many non-disabled people consider disability a moveable
Because here’s the thing: the same person who will argue that
disabled people locked up in institutions need to be there because they might
walk in front of a car or choke on food or water, will then turn to me and say
that even though I have these experiences fairly regularly, I'm not Really
Disabled, and they can tell because I don’t live in an institution.
you spot the catch-22?