(Note: This is the commentary from the link to my “Why I Boycott Autism Speaks” post. Something about the format of my blog made it really hard for me to read, though, so (under the assumption that some other people would have difficulty reading it also) I decided to put it in its own post.)
Since I posted about why I #BoycottAutismSpeaks, they have posted a “call for unity”–another attempt to silence the voices of the Actually Autistic people they claim to want to help.
I want to make an addendum to this post, however, because I mention my experiences with meltdowns, and I don’t want anyone to take what I say about my meltdowns as evidence that being nonverbal is The Worst Thing Ever. Being nonverbal sucks for me, but its not because there’s something inherently wrong with being nonverbal, and it shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on the experience of other autistic people. It sucks for me because most of the time, I’m not nonverbal. Verbal and written communication are my main methods of communication, and so far I haven’t been able to substitute written communication during the periods in which I am nonverbal.
When I become nonverbal during a meltdown, it’s scary. All of a sudden I can’t communicate, and the people around me are getting increasingly frustrated by that fact. That’s what’s so hard: not being able to communicate.
Communication seems to be a big thing for Autism Speaks–they talk about how autistic people are cut off from their parents/the world, and it seems clear they consider being nonverbal to be a mark of being “low functioning.” But there are plenty of ways for people who are nonverbal to get their thoughts and feelings across, even if finding one that works can be a difficult process, and even if those ways aren’t foolproof. The thing is, communication isn’t a one-person process. In order for autistic people, nonverbal or not, to communicate, you have to actually listen to us.
And if Autism Speaks really wants to help Autistic People, they need to start doing just that.