In honor of Autistics Speaking Day, I would like to share with the public some of my thoughts on Autistic Self-Advocacy.
As an Autistic Self Advocate, I work to advance the rights, goals, concerns and self-determination of the Autistic community that I am a part of. I strive daily to promote Neurodiversity awareness and acceptance, knowing that my condition is a functional, natural and necessary difference, worthy of respect, and celebration. I push to uphold the Social Model of Disability in regard to the Autistic Spectrum, fully aware that “systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently)” are the main obstacles I face as an individual on the Spectrum living in a Neurotypical world. I fight to dispel the popular belief that the Autistic Spectrum is a “disease” in need of a “cure,” understanding that there cannot be any real and honest dialogue about the Spectrum so long as the general public entertains such a prejudicial viewpoint. And, of course, this trend in thinking is not so easily reversible, since it is perpetuated by not only medical professionals, experts, and the mainstream media, but even some well-known organizations that purport to represent the Autistic community, as well. However, like many others on the Spectrum, I struggle against these factors to add my own voice, realizing how important it is for Autistic individuals to educate the public about the Autistic Spectrum for ourselves – especially when our Neurotypical counterparts fall short.