The Sia movie: what’s going on, my perspective as an #ActuallyAutistic person, and why #SiaDoesntSpeakForUs. Thread:
For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on, Sia created and directed a movie called Music, and the trailer came out yesterday. I won’t be linking it because frankly it’s nauseating but if you really want to see it, google is right there for you.
From what I can gather, this movie is about a woman who has to take care of her half-sister who is nonverbal and autistic. So what’s the controversy? Well the main issue is autistic character is being portrayed by a neurotypical actress, Maddie Ziegler.
Her main research for the role? Videos of autistic children having meltdowns, filmed and uploaded to YouTube without consent by their parents. Which is very much an issue. Autistic people are more than meltdowns.
Sia is also working with Autism Speaks, and if you don’t know why they’re horrible, I’d recommend watching this video by @iilluminaughtii:
She says she did three years of research for this movie, yet somehow didn’t know how harmful AS is to autistic people or even that there’s a lot of controversy surrounding them? I call bull. Even the Wikipedia page says it in the article overview! ImageImageImage
Sia has refused to use the term “disabled” and instead chooses to use the euphemism “special abilities”, which disabled people have been saying since the start is harmful. Disabled is not a bad word! Image
She also has dug in her heels regarding her decision to cast a neurotypical actress as opposed to an autistic actress, which she says was because she thought it would “cruel” to do. This is so incredibly condescending.
Autistic people know their own limits. We don’t need Sia to tell us what we can or can’t do. Are there autistic people who wouldn’t be able to act in Sia’s movie? Sure. But there are also plenty who could. Autism isn’t a monolith.
When faced with criticism from #ActuallyAutistic people, did Sia apologize, acknowledge that she’s not an expert on autism, and admit that she made a mistake not utilizing an autistic actress? No. Of course not. Because if she did, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now.
Sia has given childish, petulant responses to genuine criticism, and attacked autistic people giving that criticism. Autistic people. You know, the ones she claims to care so much about. Image
Now let’s take one moment to examine this claim. Sia claims here that all the autistic people’s criticisms are invalid because the full movie isn’t out yet. Image
To start with, even if we run on the assumption that we can’t know the actual content of the movie will be bad until we see it, we do know a neurotypical actress is portraying an autistic character. And that is not okay. That is a huge problem.
We’ve been speaking out about cripping up for so long. It’s not okay. Not in the slightest. Autism isn’t a costume. Disability is not a costume. If you really want an accurate depiction of disabled people, you MUST hire an actor with that disability. Not an option.
I watched the trailer with no prior knowledge of it. But I knew as soon as I saw the autistic character that it was a neurotypical actress, and it made me feel sick. Seeing a neurotypical person try to mimic an autistic person... it looked and felt more like mocking than acting.
Because there is no way for an abled actor to fully know what it is like to be disabled. None whatsoever. And thusly, they will never be able to accurately portray a disabled character. We know this. We’ve said this. But no one has listened.
The entire plot of the movie, although I cannot fully know what it is yet as the movie isn’t out yet, seems so resemblant of the inspiration porn that is so commonly distributed. Stories that are inspiration porn aren’t made for the disabled people they’re portraying.
They’re made for abled people to watch, go “awwwww,” and feel all warm and fuzzy. These stories are rarely if ever accurate.
And if the plot line is what it seems like, which again, it may not be, it’s gonna be one of those “ugh I have to deal with an autistic person, what a tragedy my life is” stories, which are so incredibly damaging.
These stories literally lead us to getting killed. For more on that, here’s a piece I wrote in August for @cripplemagazine. Cw for filicide and murder of a disabled child:
And honestly, it’s exhausting that we even need to talk about this STILL. We’ve been saying these things for years and years, but abled people refuse to listen. Disabled people have been screaming about this at the top of our lungs for years. And still, no one chooses to listen.

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More from @hypo_awareness

19 Nov
You all have made it quite clear that you don’t even give a damn about disabled people anymore. We all know their intended audience isn’t disabled people. The whole point of it is to make abled people feel good. Couldn’t even be bothered to get an autistic actor and it shows.
The trailer makes me feel sick to my stomach. This is disgusting. Seeing an abled neurotypical person try to mimic the facial expressions and movements of autistic people... it’s disgusting. It feels mocking and condescending.
Leslie Odom Jr. is one of my favorite actors. Him agreeing to take part in this feels like such a betrayal. I’m never gonna be able to look at him the same way again.
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