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One thing I find fascinating about critics who claim that the neurodiversity movement doesn't include "severe disability" is that their main objections to our work come up when ppl w severe disabilities are our focus. (1)
We get most of our criticism from advocacy for bringing people out of institutions and sheltered workshops, promoting alternatives to guardianship, and other things designed to enhance autonomy for ppl with significant support needs. (2)
These people aren't mad that we don't include or address people with severe disabilities - they're mad that we do, and that we believe that a rights-based approach is important even if you need ongoing services to survive and thrive. (3)
One of the things that's ironic here is that many years ago, opponents of neurodiversity were prepared to accept #ActuallyAutistic activists - only if we agreed NOT to advocate for the rights of the severely disabled. (4)
In 2005, GRASP, an early autistic self-advocacy group focused mainly on the Asperger's label, and Autism Speaks signed "Articles of Understanding" that proposed "peace" between both sides on this idea. (5)
The premise was simple: verbal autistic people would advocate rights & neurodiversity for themselves, and leave Autism Speaks control over the "severe". (6)…
Autistic activists like @myceliorum and others rejected this idea, rightly pointing out that all autistic people deserved rights and respect, not just some. (7)
The Articles of Understanding was one of the reasons Scott and I decided to found @autselfadvocacy instead of starting GRASP chapters. We didn't just want to advocate for autistic people who could talk - we believed everyone deserved rights and respect. (8)
Our most controversial work has always been the work that focuses on community-based services and something other than "indistinguishability from peers" for those with significant support needs. (9)
We don't give that up specifically because we care about all Autistic people, not just those who can talk or have no intellectual disability. (10)
And because of that, our strongest allies are actually developmental disability advocacy groups representing people with intellectual disabilities and other more "severe impairments". (11)
There is a reason why ASAN works so closely with groups around intellectual disability and Down Syndrome. We share common values, and a common commitment to rights and inclusion, including for those w severe disabilities. (12)
There is also a reason why the few autistic people who work closely with Autism Speaks and other similar groups tend to focus their work almost exclusively on verbal autistics. (13)
They've accepted the bargain GRASP tried to strike with Autism Speaks - and that we turned down fourteen years ago: leave the "severe" to us, they say, and we'll use our resources to make you a big deal among those who can talk. (14)
For #ActuallyAutistic advocacy to be worth being involved in, it needs to reject those bargains. Some people may need more services than others, but everyone needs rights. (15)
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