Today is the “Autistic People Should” flash blog day. It’s being done because when you type “autistic people should” into autocomplete search engines, you get some pretty disgusting top searches (for details, check out the Autistic People Should blog, and some of the posts there – I’m not going to honor that search by typing any of those terms into this post). (Warning: Can be triggering.)
I had a hard time coming up with answers to that question. (Speaking of questions, I highly recommend reading Musings of an Aspie’s post on Autistic People Should in particular – it has some excellent details and suggestions.)
But I was thinking about it this morning, and I found myself coming up with some interesting (and hopefully much better) ways to complete that sentence.
Autistic people should be able to be themselves.
Autistic people should not have to be ashamed of / angry about / embarrassed about / humiliated by who they are.
Autistic people should not have to conform to the social mores of allistic / neurotypical society. (Please note that I’m not saying anything here about the “moral” mores. What I mean is that we should not be expected to want to go out a lot, make lots of friends, enjoy loud and bright places, etc. We should still be held to the standards of not hurting people and the like. We are perfectly capable of that.)
Autistic people should be able to live in the way that they prefer. (Independent, independent with support, etc.)
Autistic people should be accepted / respected for who and what they are.
Autistic people should not be looked down upon as “defective” or “damaged”.
Autistic people should be listened to about who they are and what they want.
In other words: Autistic people should be treated like human beings, because that is what they are.
[Edit: Feb. 23/13 @20:40] Unstrange Mind has also done an Autistic People Should post focused on the fact that we are all human beings.
I followed the links you listed and also read your post. I have an observation and question:
The question is, in what way is “Autistic people should…” different than “All people should…”? An example: “Autistic people should be treated with respect.” Well, “All people should be treated with respect.” as well. Well, I suppose there are exceptions — I never thought of treating Ida Amin with respect.
The observation, not restricted in any way to autistic people though it was reinforced when reading some blogs, is that there is exhibited a “sense of entitlement”. There are obvious examples of this sense of entitlement in class structure — the aristocracy and royalty are a group of people who exhibit extreme senses of entitlement (though not all members do). However, there are also individuals (non-autistic) that also exhibit this behaviour. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for sports stars and entertainment stars (movies, music…) to exhibit a sense of entitlement. Clearly not all do, but enough do for it to be obvious and a bit disturbing.
So when autistics say, in effect, “We should be…”, they should be careful. It is fine to say, “I should be treated with respect” (“I am entitled to be treated with respect”), but be a bit more thoughtful when the “I should be…” indicates a treatment that does not extend to all human beings (or people living in a particular area, city, state, country…). Also, be thoughtful if the “We should…” actually imposes a burden on the other members of society.
This is not to say that I do not agree with society providing special support to autistics (and other groups) — I do — but it is not clear that all such supports are, in fact, an “entitlement”.
One of the definitions of “entitle” in the Oxford English Dictionary is to “give (person etc.) a rightful claim (to a thing, to do)”. When I talk about a “sense of entitlement”, I am referring to a self-assumed “rightful claim”.
*nods to Papa*
Quite frankly, the point of my post, at least, is that there is no real difference between “autistic people should” and “all people should”. We’re all human beings. We all deserve to be treated as such.
And yes, I definitely agree with you that there are some cases where there is a “sense of entitlement” in the meaning you use, and I think that’s just as wrong (if in a different fashion) as the search engine issues that this set of flash blog posts was set to deal with.
Anyway, glad you read and took a look!