April has become a month of memory even if we don't often talk about it that way. In April, we remember the Autistic community's conflict with Autism Speaks. Four years ago, that struggle was all-consuming. It was impossible not to take a side. For people on the side I chose, neurodiversity, hope for Autistic people as we are, hope for a vibrant, diverse humanity, it was hard to go a day without thinking about what felt like an existential threat. Every day that went by was another day of cure research, another day when resources devoted to cure research weren't used to show the world what we knew: that an Autistic life could be a worthwhile one. Living under that oppressive sense that we were running out of time, that someone was always trying to wipe us out, wore people down. What we did about it wore people down. Exhaustion … Continue Reading ››
Autism Speaks is anti-autistic. Autism Speaks spends too much money on cause and cure research rather than things that are actually helpful. Autism Speaks would like to ensure that future generations of autistic people are never born. All of those things are true. But you know what else is true? Autism Speaks is not the only threat to autistic people’s well-being and autonomy right now. In fact, in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency, it is hard to make the case that Autism Speaks is even close to the biggest threat. This is not a defense of Autism Speaks. Like most autistic people involved in the neurodiversity community, I am disgusted with Autism Speaks’ long history of ableism. However, I do question whether anti-Autism Speaks activism should be our number one priority as a community at this point. When we focus all of our energies on Autism Speaks, it becomes easy to forget … Continue Reading ››
Note: The following piece contains graphic descriptions of police violence. February 1st is important for two reasons. It’s the first day of Black History Month. Figures like Harriet Tubman, Leroy Moore, Stephen Wiltshire, Vilissa Thompson, Blind Tom Wiggins and Brad Lomax are iconic in the African Diaspora. They are also Deaf, disabled, and/or neurodivergent. Disability is often erased and overlooked when discussing black history. It shouldn’t be. February 1st is also the day that shook Calumet City, IL and the black and disability communities as a whole. This year, February 1st marks the fifth anniversary of Stephon Watts’death. Stephon Watts was a 15-year-old African-American male teen on the autism spectrum. He was interested in computers and aspired to one day become a computer programmer. Five years ago, he was murdered by police. In 2012, the Calumet City police arrived at Stephon Watts’ home. They were there to … Continue Reading ››
Two years ago, I decided to try to start a culture and news site for the neurodiversity community. I also decided that if I was going to do it at all, I was going to do it right. My graduate degree is in writing. My sympathies lie squarely with writers. I wanted to make certain that people who wrote or made art for me would be paid for their work. So I had to wait. Last summer, I received a generous award from the HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The web site has been undergoing a professional redesign -- I wanted NOS Magazine to look beautiful, to present the work of my fellow mad, neurodivergent, autistic, developmentally and intellectually disabled contributors the way they deserved to be. Now, I can make the NOS Magazine I'd dreamed of a reality.
What makes a people? For the last two decades, the Autistic community has struggled with that question. As a community first defined by doctors and researchers, portrayed to the public mainly by outsiders, and often born to non-autistic parents, it can be hard to sort out who we are and how we should relate to each other. Despite these difficulties, the last few years have found us starting to figure things out. Thanks to an active blogosphere, advocacy organizations like ASAN and AWN, and a strong coalition of leaders young and old working to build our grassroots, the Autistic culture, community and identity is stronger now than it has ever been. In the words of Jim Sinclair, the neurodiversity movement’s earliest leader, "Our community is still young, but a generation of autistic children has already grown up having experience and familiarity with autistic togetherness." The Autistic identity has grown … Continue Reading ››