It’s kind of funny that I don’t even want to write this right now. Currently, I feel neutral about autism advocacy. I’ve learned recently that there is a whole world out there of people who are sometimes trying to do their best but without the right resources. I’ve seen people actively try to include others, and I’ve also seen people not consider barriers to accessibility. Sometimes they’re the same person.
It can be very cathartic to find and connect with other autistic people who have had to process their feelings about stigma and discrimination in our society. Sharing these experiences with non-autistic people can help them understand us, even if we speak some harsh truths, and I enjoy teaching people about assumptions and widening their understanding of autistic people’s experiences.
I want to write the words “I’m tired” but that’s not exactly it. Many marginalized people, including myself, are forced to be advocates to exist in life. I started this blog to both understand myself and help others. I didn’t think I was allowed to say no. I was needed. People needed help. There was only one answer. Many other advocates have sacrificed much more to do this than I ever have. Time with their kids. Their mental, emotional, and physical health. Their livelihood.
Autistic people have a lot of collective trauma, some more than others. But almost all of us have trauma that we have to disentangle and work through. Being in a community with so much collective trauma and so many defense mechanisms (myself included), and listening to those traumatic experiences can be really hard sometimes.
So no, I’m not tired. But I’ve decided to prioritize myself, my health, my relationships, and my life. I’ve also learned that there are many more ways to impact society than writing and speaking about being autistic. Being an openly autistic person in any area of life is impactful, and many other autistic people make waves through their own section of the world without calling themselves an “advocate.”
I’ve also realized that my free time is truly my own. Over the years, especially from following the online disability community, I’ve learned to stop feeling bad for having needs, wants, and hobbies that aren’t for succeeding, or winning, or getting paid, or external validation, but instead because I just enjoy doing them. I have been hyperfocused on being autistic and all of the bad things that happen in the world to autistic people instead of accessing autistic joy. I’ve realized that I need to change that.
It Shouldn’t Be On Us
Autistic people shouldn’t be the ones saddled with stopping our society from electrically shocking disabled people. We shouldn’t have to be pushing to make restraint and seclusion illegal in schools. We shouldn’t have to go up against a multi-billion dollar industry that makes money off of coercion and abuse of autistic children (ABA). We shouldn’t have to expose the media’s sympathy for adults who commit infanticide on their autistic children. We shouldn’t have to make sure the world knows that autistic marginalized groups and autistic adults exist.
If you feel like this is your job, I am here to tell you that it isn’t. It’s not your job. I get it, 100% I do. It hurts to hear about autistic people suffering. It hurts to read the stories and how they’re written. It hurts to know that our torture is legal. It makes me angry and frustrated and sometimes hopeless.
I’m not telling you to stop advocating for autistic people. I’m letting you know that you’re allowed to breathe, take a break, enjoy a hobby, take a week off, or a month off, or a year off, read about autistic joy instead of autistic pain. For marginalized groups like us, you just living your life is advocacy. You existing is advocacy. You’re enough.
We shouldn’t have to be witnessing these things all the time. We shouldn’t have to educate someone everytime we hear that they’re involved in ABA. We shouldn’t have to justify our existence because people decided that being autistic means inherently suffering and believes eugenics is okay. If you do nothing around advocacy in autism as an autistic person – You are not a bad autistic person. You’re a human being trying to live your life.
I understand feeling like you have to do everything you possibly can at every time to push this cause forward, or that no one else is looking out for us or aligning with our cause. I absolutely understand that.
I’ve simply decided I don’t have the capacity to do that work in this moment.
Maybe it’s worth waiting for allistic people to catch up to us for a bit.
What Does This Mean?
All of this being said, this doesn’t mean I won’t write a blog post here or there or discuss things on social media, or consult when I have the energy. But I’m going to take my mental health seriously when it comes to advocacy work like BoycottSpectrum10k and StopTheShock. I’d like to thank the autistic and disability community for being a space for processing, understanding, and connection.
I hope you give yourself the same grace that I am trying to give myself these days, and I hope you find what brings you joy. Genuinely, please take care of yourself. The world is better with you in it.