05 October, 2011

For the record I identify as disabled not as autistic.

I think if they do dialogues at TPGA again they should include people with disabilities other than autism.

It's kind of tough because I think in some ways these parent-centering issues are worse in the "autism community," not because of any real fact about people with autism or our parents, but because of the social position that autism occupies.

It's a really fashionable disability to be related to, and a really stigmatized one to have (in a complicated way--I think practically anyone can get famous for having autism while the voices of people with less distinguished disabilities are ignored, but it's almost impossible to get a normal job while being open about the fact that you have autism). To hear the average person say it, you would think that autism is the only disability someone's child could possibly have, and after watching TV for a few minutes you'd be doubly convinced.

Kids with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities don't have the high profile that kids with autism have, and the same goes for their parents. I'm sure this has plenty of drawbacks. I also think it gives families room to figure things out by themselves and get most of their emotional encouragement from other families rather than from the media. There's also the fact that Deaf culture is the oldest disability culture, and people with visual, physical, and intellectual disabilities have a fairly long history of advocating for themselves that anyone can read about in a book on disability rights. This isn't so much the case for people with autism.

Of course, it's also the case that any book about disability rights is pretty hard to find, and that parents of people with all disabilities are centered. I think in some communities there is more of a sense that this is something to be corrected--from my admittedly limited viewpoint, it seems that things like "Welcome to Holland" are much more of a staple in intellectual disability parent circles than they are among parents of kids with autism. But the idea is still there. The point of view of a person with a disability is always hard to remember to take.

I don't think I would be as into anti-ableism as I am if I hadn't seen how pervasive a lot of things are cross-disability, things that I had previously thought of as "autism problems." The world started to seem more broken to me but also somehow more fixable. I think parent-centering is one of the issues that people with all disabilities, and parents of people with all disabilities, need to talk about.

That said I do think it probably seems like a more severe problem to me and other people with autism than it does to people who have disabilities other than autism, because of autism's high profile and lack of history.

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