What does tokenism look like? The abstract that I submitted to an autism conference was rejected on the ground that they were "able to find another autistic speaker" -- not because the content that I proposed to present was relevant to the decision.
I am able to speak on a number of autism-related topics, but there are some talks which I specifically do NOT do, even when asked:
1. "My personal autism story" (also known as the "Self-Narrating Zoo Exhibit")
2. Witty edutainment about the benefits of 'high-functioning autism'.
My primary focus areas for advocacy are:
1. Addressing health issues common in autists and their families
2. The communication rights of nonspeaking autists
3. The paradigm needed for change, and the principles of the #CRPD
So, with this in mind, the title of my proposed talk was "7 Autistic Health Issues We Dare Not Ignore - And What Autistic People Say Helps Them".
The 7 issues I was going to talk about (with references to patient stories as well as research papers) included Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, PANDAS, hypokalaemic sensory overstimulation, masking and suicide risk. Not all of the issues are medical problems; some are societal.
One of my topics was the body-mind disconnect (autistic apraxia). Since this conference was to have no nonspeaking presenters, I felt it important to include the messages provided by nonspeakers for the Autistic Health Seminar 2018.
With the event organised by a group of parents determined to roll out a large ABA programme over a territory spanning more than 30 million square kilometres, I genuinely felt that the title and content of my talk were extremely important to prevent harm to millions of humans.
So. This isn't going to happen, because they were "able to find another autistic speaker", and they didn't respond to my question about the topic that this person would be covering.
If they found another autist who also proposed to speak about mast cell disorders, the risks caused by ableism in the autism industry, the devastation of ABA, the rights of non-speakers, and the importance of motor skills and communication training for apraxic autists, it's cool.
Because there are not only common illnesses, but also common human rights which are often ignored by autism professionals -- with devastating consequences.

If the other autist is going to address these issues firmly and use the opportunity to set a direction for change, great.
But if not...

I am not giving up! ✊

I'm flying to Namibia next week at the invitation of the Namibia Autism Association, to present one-day workshops on these exact topics in Windhoek and Swakopmund, plus a breakfast briefing in Walvis Bay.
Never forget that an autistic child by the name of Greta Thunberg sat alone with her cardboard placard outside the Swedish parliament every Friday.



And the rest is history in the making.

Let's change the world for the better. 🌍
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