|The magical Leah Kelley blogger, speaker|
educator, awesome parent of H
Leah's deep love and respect for her son H, her strong background and experience as a special education teacher, along with a keen understanding of what supports divergent people need to navigate public spaces, shine in the concept of these cards and made her latest great idea very much worth sharing. It is the definition of what autism parenting with love and acceptance entails.
30 Days of Autism also hosted an excellent quick assessment of the TASH 2014 conference from Cara, who blogs at That Crazy Crippled Chick, and you can read about that here. I actually recognized Cara from the I Am Norm Campaign's first Youth Summit! She has gone on to graduate school and outstanding activism.
|My son Mu. My living example that nonspeaking|
autistics deserve the same respect that the rest of
the spectrum is fighting for
I was unable to garner the support to succeed in helping two important disabled activists afford the cost for the accommodations and supports they needed to have their voices heard at TASH 2014 in the moment when harm to disabled people of color needed to be spoken about the most. It was the latest in a series of events that marked my decision to withdraw from everything except blogging. I am now simply a blogging autism parent.
I realize now that the organizational aspects of disability rights activism as they are currently structured, are constrained by the same institutionalization of privilege, hierarchal discrimination based upon degree of disability, layers of intersecting factors which are othered by organizations lacking equal neurodivergent representation, and the racial discrimination that is polarizing our country in general. The voices of marginalized groups within disabled populations are already muted (as defined in muted group theory by E. Ardener, S. Ardener, C. Kramarae, and M. Orbe). Institutionalized disparities in representation and support for marginalized subgroups in disability advocacy made my task as an independent activist seeking grant funding for direct support of disabled activists who advocate for said groups impossible.
|Me, retired activist, glasses perched on|
on the end of the nose I inherited from
my ancestors, proud mom to
I truly believe that with the exception of neurodivergent families of diverse races who conform to the dominant culture in every other way, the autism conversation will continue to be dominated by white privileged parents with the financial means to provide ample supports for the 'therapy' and education of their children. We will continue discussing what those children need and policy will be dictated by that group rather than by neurodivergent adults whose needs are underserved or heavily intersected populations who are both underserved and overshadowed by the dominant group. This is true across organizations. If someone of color is in a decision making position, that person must be from a class position that disassociates itself from those in poverty and silently allows the dominant voices to dictate autism policy, because when they have reached a place of power, they tend to forget that their true purpose is to serve their people. Instead they stay silent and do as they are told and think of their own gain. They justify this by the old myth that somehow they must accept the role of token in order to make history so that others can follow.
The Good: A chance to meet and have lunch with the next generation autistic disability rights voices was a great gift
|H, son of Leah Kelley, autistic activist,|
speaker, student and incredibly cool dude.
|Emma Zurcher-Long, Autistic Activist,|
Performer, student, advocate for non-
speaking autists who type to communicate
|Henry Frost - Autistic Activist,|
student, advocate for full inclusion, public
speaker and activist for non speaking autistics
Meeting some very confident young people at TASH left me hopeful despite my sadness for my own people. I would think Dr. Grandin would be proud of young people who self advocate about their own neurologies. Her statement also excludes very young activists who type like Henry Frost and Emma Zurcher-Long, able to communicate eloquently at such young ages with AAC support. Her insistence in seeing the future of our community only in kids on the spectrum with verbal speech when such powerhouse young typing activists are making names for themselves is not just sad. It is a very good example of hierarchy of disability by presumption of competence based upon what is visible rather than what is possible. Independent young typing activists leading their own generation are the role models for nonverbal autistic presumption of competence. Dr. Grandin speaks as if there was never a groundbreaking documentary called Wretches and Jabbers that changed the global conversation about communication and nonspeaking autism, and as if Naoki Higashida never wrote "The Reason I Jump". The reason Emma Zurcher-Long is a public speaker (note the word speaker meaning communicator - she types through most of her presentations that is her primary communication method) is because of the impact of these nonspeaking people. Probably one of the strongest voices in our community is Amy Sequenzia who also communicates by typing. Dr. Grandin is a privileged
|Amy Sequenzia, Autistic Activist and|
Poet, advocate for nonspeaking autistics
users of AAC to communicate
|Renee orchestrated lunch with young autistics|
as a conductor would a concert.
In case you missed the link in the first paragraph 30 Days of Autism can be read at (http://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/)
This is the end of part one of a ridiculously long post divided into three parts. Part II is next