Monday, December 1, 2014

The Gated Autism Community Part 2; The Solution

I recently wrote in a Facebook status update about the exclusivity of the so-called online autism community. I was asked to expand on this idea and give it a title. I did and it was posted where people not on my friends list would have access. The response indicated it wasn't appreciated.

First, points were subtracted from my overall grade for how the way I wrote was incomprehensible. One woman asked someone else to explain because it bogged her down. When I offered to answer a question, she neglected to ask one. She told me that it read like a medical textbook, and she was just a grandma who needed things in layman terms. Upon hearing I hadn't graduated elementary school, and my jobs only included manual labor, she said she hadn't meant to hurt my feeling and gave cyber hugs.  

Next I received a poor grade for the way the essay was lacking in a conclusion or a solution. (This, of course, is something I may have learned had I attended essay writing class.) Without such a thing, the theme was dismissed as nothing more than complaining about an uncurable societal ill rather than joining the ranks of those who were supposedly willing to address that which could be addressed.  

Those commenting consistently referred to me as if I wasn't involved in the conversation long after I'd clearly shown that I was. One, in particular, told of what Mr. Ised (meaning me) doesn't understand and is wrong about and included passive-aggressive questions implying what I may have meant. She identified herself as one of the people with Asperger's who had pushed for the needed change and suggested that rather than include more whose contributions go unrecognized, we should all be more respectful and appreciative of her hard work and that of others like her.

People said they weren't following the point yet they wrongly assumed what it was and critiqued it. Ideas were taken completely out of context so the writer could be discredited, and the content could be ignored. Despite my request for specific questions, some continued to ask for the central point of what I wrote as though I had intentionally neglected to explain as best I could. I was even told that what I write was full of smoke, and that I should have instead used my own words.

More than one person, commenting asserted that although I had failed to communicate effectively, I shouldn't claim to advocate for those who were poorer communicators. I once followed with this but received no response;  
"Further separating a marginalized group for the sake of convenience into contribution-ignored and struggle-ignored subs will only help to ensure no one but others will ever decide policy that affects them or influences the way society describes them. If someone ever does contribute recognizably, they're simply placed into the other category so the status remains the same."

It's convenient to describe the autism spectrum as ranging from people with assets to those with deficits. This fits with age-appropriate standards, the way developmental disability is defined, and the traditional emergency-room means for acquiring services. It also encourages the way people are seeking association and endorsements of so-called important people while further suggesting that the excluded are unimportant. Nothing could be more backwards.

Inclusion is nothing like the politicians describe. They can't alter the system but need to claim progress in order to be appointed or reelected. If a community was truly interested in inclusion, they would first recognize more of the contribution currently being ignored and create something that the so-called support system either can't or won't.  

Politicians and scholars will present a problem either as either the catalyst for debate or in such a manor that they aren't expected to address it. I, on the other hand, have no reason to do either. As I mentioned earlier, a mountain top or birds's eye view is not an advantage unless the people who are being decided for are the focus. If their contribution is believed to be insignificant, the claim that they are being served is disingenuous at best.

People communicate when they have a reason. They will best be able to explain what access entails when they are viewed as the primary source of solutions. The point of describing the autism community as gated is to highlight how people are being excluded who shouldn't be. The solution to exclusion is simply inclusion. Whenever a method of exclusion has been better understood, anyone wanting to avoid it will be more equipped to do so.

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