50 Inspiring Autistic People of 2011: Writers
Many of the people who appear elsewhere on this list are also powerful and important writers, and there are many autistic writers whose words inspired me in 2011 whose names are not on anywhere on this list because limiting myself to 50 was challenging. These four writers are special for me.
From Quiet Hands:
Flapping your hands doesn’t do anything for you, so it does nothing for me.
I can control it.
If I could just suppress it, you wouldn’t have to do this.
They actually teach, in applied behavioral analysis, in special education teacher training, that the most important, the most basic, the most foundational thing is behavioral control. A kid’s education can’t begin until they’re “table ready.”
I need to silence my most reliable way of gathering, processing, and expressing information, I need to put more effort into controlling and deadening and reducing and removing myself second-by-second than you could ever even conceive, I need to have quiet hands, because until I move 97% of the way in your direction you can’t even see that’s there’s a 3% for you to move towards me.
I need to have quiet hands.
I know. I know.
Note: When I originally linked to "Quiet Hands" I wrote this "Julia's hands, when she writes like this, are LOUD. And that is a wonderful thing." So I could not be more excited that Julia is spearheading the Loud Hands Project for ASAN. Fundraising for this transmedia publishing effort has been going on for just a week and they have alread reached over half of their goal. Please consider adding your donation.
Other significant work from Julia this year:
I feel that for autistic people speaking out, it is only safe to tell our personal stories, that they might serve as an “inspiration” to others. If we engage with issues of policy or politics, we are told that we are speaking of things we know nothing about. We are telling parents and professionals how to do their jobs, and how dare we assume that we know better than they do?
It also seems to me that there is a very limited range of emotional expression that is acceptable. If we are angry – and I’m not talking about name-calling and swearing, just emotion – we are told that our anger makes our arguments invalid. If we are blunt and forceful, we are told that we will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I see people commenting about this whole mess and saying “how can you expect us to listen when you are so angry and so impolite?”
It’s true that I expect people who are interested in issues of autism and disability to listen to me. Not because I’m polite or because I will make them feel good, but because when they talk about autism, they’re talking about me, and they talk about me all the time. If you’re going to spend a lot of time talking about disability, you should listen to what disabled people have to say, otherwise – and I’m going to be blunt here – how will you know what you’re talking about?
Other significant work from Zoe this year:
High expectations and high standards are a sign that I think you're capable of earning that trust I mentioned higher up. I don't trust easily. Saying you're an ally doesn't make you one. But putting in the work-which is tedious and frustrating, believe me I know-that can make you an ally. But the allies who I trust? That trust is a sign that I think very highly of them, and I expect the world from people I think so well of. For what it's worth, I expect the world from myself too. I know it's not an easy standard to meet, but it's doable. Ish.
Other significant work from Kassiane this year:
My new teacher was veryand people-centric - traits that would seem ideal in a teacher. But we quickly came to clash. In her estimation, being alone and isolated were the worst possible outcomes for anyone. I was both.
Not that I wanted to be...but I was coming from a completely different perspective. For me, isolation was a far less painful place than the world in which I had spent the previous year - a world in which it was impossible to tell the cruel from the kind, and being around people meant living in constant, wondering where and when the next attack would come. And my teacher unknowingly made it worse - in an attempt to integrate me into the social sphere of the classroom, she "assigned" me a friend.
It was a situation I'd been primed to fear. The worst bully in my previous school - the ringleader who led many of the attacks - had been a girl who'd been "assigned" to befriend me, in that case by her mother. She'd resented it, and made me pay for it, dearly. I now feared the same from this new girl.
Other significant work from Lynne this year: