by Amy Sequenzia
From time to time I find myself writing about typed communication, and how Autistic typists are devalued by “autism specialists”.
There is a very vocal group of people – the “autism experts” or “autism specialists” – who refuse to accept that we can feel human feelings, that we can think complex thoughts, that we are people.
“Autism Experts” and “Autism Specialists”
Many, if not most of them are behaviorists, the ones who believe that everyone should strive to look as neurotypical as possible, and act as neurotypical as possible to have any value as human beings.
They refuse to accept that we can communicate by typing, even if we need physical support, or the presence of someone we trust next to us.
They expect our brains to process communication in the same way a majority of neurotypical people process communication.
They call themselves autism “experts” but they know very little about autism.
Or they don’t call themselves “experts” but act as if they know everything about us, even if they never really talk to us.
They give lectures about how to “deal” with Autistics but they don’t listen to us.
They say they want to make sure each and every Autistic person has a voice but they reject our typed voices, claiming that a “real” human being is “influencing” our typed words – since, according to them, non-speaking Autistics, often Autistics who need a lot of supports – can’t possibly have real thoughts.
They claim they want to “protect” us from “unethical” people but they don’t ask us if we want such protection, if we want it from them, and they don’t care to ask us what we want.
They refuse to acknowledge communication diversity because they built their careers on how to “fix” us, on how to make us compliant and indistinguishable from non-autistics, on how to make us live by an idea of “normal” that our brains cannot process, that our bodies refuse to comply with.
They make money, and they inflate their egos, by trying to make us look less Autistic.
Their fear is: if they were to acknowledge that we have words, and that we are the authors of our typed communication, their professional status would be damaged because they would have been outed as the bigots they are.
They don’t consider us real people, so demonizing us is not a problem for them.
They claim to be aware of autism, and to understand what autism is, but their actions show that they don’t.
They pretend to forget that other disabilities co-occur with autism, making typing even more complex than the already present complexities of brain processing, and movement, we experience.
They fail in their professional knowledge of disabilities by not understanding accommodations, accessibility, and disability itself, and they fail to see us as independent thinkers, human beings who don’t need, or don’t want to “perform” to them in their chosen time, pace, form, place, and to their general neurotypical expectation.
They claim that the simple presence of what they consider a “real person” – a person of real human value – next to us means that the words we type are not ours, that the “real person” next to us is magically guiding our thoughts.
They don’t claim the same thing about speaking Autistics (because they consider those “almost valuable people”), non-speaking non-autistics, or speaking non-autistics (the “people of real value”).
They say every facilitator is guiding our hands when we type but we are the ones they dehumanize. I am aware that there are bad facilitators, good facilitators, and great facilitators because there are bad people, good people and great people. Facilitators are human beings. The bigots refuse to acknowledge that the good and great facilitators are the first ones to demand of themselves the ethics necessary to support another human being (facilitators do see our humanity).
The bigots don’t question facilitators by dehumanizing them because they see facilitators as real people, and real people don’t need the “fixing” the bigots “experts” and “specialists” promote and make money of when they say we are not good enough for humankind. So they keep on demonizing non-speaking Autistics, the ones they want to “fix”.
They talk about us without us because, to them, we only exist when they need to demean and dehumanize us for their profit, and to feed their ego.