“Autism Speaks, I Want to Say”
Another flash blog. This one prompted by the Autism Speaks video “I Want to Say”, which was supposed to be about autistics using AAC… but no communications from autistics were actually shown. Which renders the supposed purpose of the video useless. Read more about it here, at the flash blog.
I’m verbal. I don’t need AAC to communicate. But I am by far more comfortable communicating in email and text and via the computer than I am face-to-face (or, gods forfend, on the phone). I am autistic.
I want to say: Autism Speaks, I don’t like you. Things like that video are fear-mongering and hate-promoting. Things like that video portray us as less than human. We are not.
I read a very interesting post on Wiring the Brain, a science / genetic blog I’ve started reading (it’s now on my blogroll) that suggests that autism is actually one of the “stable states” that human brains can settle into based on mutations in a number of different genes (which is part of why the cause of autism is so hard to find, because it can be the result of mutations in different genes depending on the person). That suggests, in turn, that autism is a natural human “stable state”.
So, some autistics need help communicating. Pardon me for making a disease comparison, but so do people who have had strokes, sometimes people who have had heart attacks, people who have had accidents that have affected their brain’s language centres….
There’s a statistic floating around that suggests that 60-65% of people think visually, not verbally. That there are only 30% of people who think verbally. (The rest think via other sensory experiences, or through mixed-senses; I think visually and verbally.) That implies that expressive language (which, please note, is not the same as “receptive language”, which is what people hear and understand) is not necessary to thinking. Therefore, we should not believe that just because people are unable to express themselves with speech, that they cannot think, and that they do not understand.
Amy Sequenzia, the non-verbal autistic whose post started this flash blog, is a wonderful, expressive poet. Autism Speaks would have you believe, because she cannot communicate verbally, that she cannot communicate at all. Not in any way that counts.
I’m a writer. I think poetry counts for a lot. I think the written word communicates a lot. Not to mention that old expression, a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s so, then AAC is a very valid way to communicate.
And autistics should be allowed – and encouraged – to communicate.
“Autism Speaks” <– You don’t speak for us.