Things I Love About Being Autistic
Our existence is not an ‘epidemic.’ It’s a blessing.
As I’m writing this piece, two men are sitting next to me talking about how disabled people should be killed. Seriously. They’re going on and on about how vile it is that as some humans grow older, they begin to need diapers. In graphic detail, one of them is describing how he would shoot or poison himself if he were to become senile or physically incapacitated. His friend says it is a blessing that his mother died right after her stroke.
In the last half hour, they’ve discussed the necessity for mothers to abort disabled infants too. One of them mused that a life with a profound disability is not any kind of life. If you cannot speak, if you cannot go to the toilet by yourself, you must want to die.
These guys normally come to this café to eat sandwiches and stress about global warming. I’ve overheard their loud conversations twice a week, for months. They’re progressive. They usually seem to care about other people and one another. But, apparently, their compassion does not extend to disabled people. For those who need help moving, eating, or using the bathroom, there is no room for accommodation and love. For these folks, murder suddenly seems like mercy.
The main struggle for Autistic people is the refusal of neurotypical people to see us as fully formed, complex, beautiful, interesting, and worthwhile. We need acceptance, not a cure.
And it shouldn’t surprise me. This is an exceedingly common view. But it still makes me a little weepy and a lot pissed. I want to yell at them that all life has value — that they do not get to decide when a person should cease to exist. That the inconvenience of changing an adult diaper does not justify execution.
I don’t say a word, of course. I’m a coward. Or I don’t know how to be persuasive in moments like this. Or I’m afraid of them thinking I’m a freak. I don’t know how one is meant to respond in situations like this. So, I just burrow into myself and get writing.
A lot of folks want Autism — and by extension all Autistic people — eradicated. Autism Speaks (which…