April is over
Awareness and blue lights are over.
Time to change the conversation
For we, autistics, are still here
And your campaign of fear did nothing to improve our lives.
Time to listen, Autism Speaks.
(And all the other organizations that follow your lead).
The message you send
Of fear and despair
Has nothing to do with who we are.
It is a reflection
Of how we are treated.
We struggle, for sure
But we also succeed.
We are different, we are not less.
Despite statistics, we are not a tragic event.
We have always been here, we now speak up.
Do you know what the words you use to define us can do?
They can raise walls that keep us out
Of our own lives.
“Devastating, tragic, lost”
These are words that do not reflect us.
They are words used by you and your surrogates
In talk shows, fundraisers and interviews.
You have power
You have money
You get all the attention
But you don’t have the insight.
That’s our privilege
We are the true experts
We know about autism
We are autistics.
My life can have devastating moments
But autism does not cause them.
I can feel despair
But not because I’m autistic.
I wish for a cure
To how the world
Listen to us
We are different
But we are also happy
We are asking for respect for who we are
We need some accommodations
But we can succeed
We don’t want a cure
For this would destroy our personalities,
Erase our life history
Diminish our accomplishments.
Listen, Autism Speaks:
Stop telling parents how doomed they are,
How broken their kids are
Because they only despair
When they listen to you.
Show them instead
Examples of success.
We are succeeding
In our own way.
Help the parents
Secure what is important to their children’s lives
Lead the way towards acceptance,
Not the fixing of their children
They are not broken
They are perfect
In their own, unique way
I am one autistic
You like to call “tragic and severe”
I am non-speaking
I have many needs
If you could see me
You would understand
But those definitions don’t reflect my life.
Tragic is when I am working hard to be accepted
While you say that I can’t contribute in society,
While you say I should not exist.
Autism Speaks, time to listen
Listen to us
We have the insight
We know what helps –
– and it is not what you say.