Defying Stereotypes Since 1976

Posts tagged ‘Communication Shutdown Day’

Autistics Speaking Day is November 1

Autistics Speaking Day is November 1. Check out the official blog: Autistic Speaking Day. They also have an FAQ and a list of participants for the 2011 event. If you’d like to participate, there is more information on the FAQ page.

You can also follow @AutisticsSpeak on Twitter.

If you’re not familiar with Autistics Speaking Day, then here is the post by Corina Becker at No Stereotypes Here that started it all.

And I will be participating both on this blog and at Raven’s Wing Poetry.

This Is Why We Do What We Do

For those of you who have been following this blog or have been around the Interwebs, you probably know by now about Autistics Speaking Day (for those who don’t know, check out the link and my last post about this.)

I received a comment about this which I thought was especially thoughtful and articulate from an autistic gentleman who counsels adults on the spectrum. I especially loved the last half of his post and thought, “This is why we speak out. This is why we are self-advocates. This is why we do what we do.”

Please read the comment from Jim below:

“I wholelly agree. I have autism as a diagnosis (since my 6th). I’m also a councellor specialized in coaching of adults with autism and a normal to high intelligence.

In my communication with clients, the main issues they speak of are:
* sexuality and the wish to have intimate relations.
* communication, and the difficulties in verbal face 2 face communication with non autists.
* giving meaning to their lives.
* wanting to be treated as equal, worthy citizens.

Some clients prefer speaking back to back, some prefer internet chat or e-mail, some prefer text…… very few prefer face to face contact or telephone voice contact.

modern communication media have increased the communicative capacities of persons with autism. Unfortuneately, the internet has also become a gathering place of non autists who choose to give meaning to their lives by emphasizing how pitifull we are, and advocating a cure for us.

Don’t fix us, we aren’t broken.
Don’t pity us, we aren’t pitifull.
Don’t change us, accept us as we are.

Cherish us.
Challenge us.
And watch what we do.

Try to connect with us.
And follow our lead.
Because we will innovate.
Because we have to innovate.
Because we don’t understand the standard.
So we’ll make our own.”

And maybe one of us will be foolish enough.
To show the rest of you the way to the stars…….”

Bravo!

Also, please check out these other amazing posts and pages about Autistics Speaking Day:

And if you find any other awesome or thought-provoking posts about it, PLEASE don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

-Nicole

Why Communication Shutdown Day Is a Bad Idea (And What You Can Do Instead)

listen carefully – this is Asperger’s talking
speaking in tongues ain’t easy
but I do not regret the wings that God gave me
just give me my damn feathers
and I will keep on singing

(from my poem, “Speaking in Tongues”)

I happened to come across this post over on the No Stereotypes Here blog in which the author, Corina Becker, discusses Communication Shutdown Day, an international effort scheduled for November 1 which attempts to raise money for participating autism-related charities.

The idea behind Communication Shutdown Day this year is to refrain from using social networks (such as Twitter and Facebook) that day. It is, in the words of one supporter, supposed to “mirror autistic silence” and “draw attention to the isolation and intense loneliness experienced by those who are impeded from connecting socially with others”. In short, it is supposed to create empathy for those on the spectrum as well as raise charity money.

And I think it’s a bad idea.

Hold on a minute, Nicole, you might be saying. This is helping raise awareness for autism. So what’s the problem?

Well, for one thing, it could reinforce an existing idea that autistics cannot communicate – and if you’ve been reading this blog, you know of at least one autistic person who can. I am not denying that we do have our communication difficulties, and that many individuals on the autism spectrum are non-verbal. HOWEVER, reinforcing the concept of our silence is just a bad idea and doesn’t really do much for us as autistic individuals. While this event claims to help create empathy for us, I can’t help but wonder how much of that is going to end up becoming pity instead.

And the last thing our community needs is more pity. Pity for us is based on the idea of “oh, poor things, they live such miserable lives – they need a cure”. Pity detracts from the real issues that confront us day by day, which include: equal treatment, opportunity, and access to needed services and accommodations in educational institutions and the workplace; dealing with the social landscape of whatever cultures we are in; encountering and finding solutions to problems unique to our population, such as sensory overload, emotional expression, and low frustration tolerance; building and maintaining a healthy self-esteem; ensuring that we are treated with care and respect by medical and mental health professionals; and navigating an uncertain world with a brain and nervous system that craves predictability. Pity also detracts from our strengths, such as: persistence and focus; unique thinking patterns and methods; honesty; narrow interests which can lead to expertise in a subject; and the potential for creative, scientific, and other forms of positive contribution to society.

Becker has proposed an alternative: Autistics Speaking Day. Instead of remaining silent and refraining from usage of the Internet and social networks, she proposes that we on the autism spectrum speak out. As she puts in in this post:

…on November 1st, Autistic people should speak up and be heard. That in the absence of NT voices, Autistics should reclaim the Autism community by communicating in our own ways on our life experiences.

And once I read about the idea, I found myself in natural agreement. So to help spread the word and promote Autistics Speaking Day, I will be tweeting about it, posting about it on Facebook, and other places. I also encourage those who agree with this idea and/or plan to participate on November 1 to SPREAD THE WORD. Tweet, blog, share on FB, etc. the HELL out of this mofo. Let OUR voices be heard that day. I’ll be tweeting that day and writing at least one poem as part of this effort.

If you do participate, please read her suggestions here (e.g. being mindful of subject matter that could trigger people and so forth). And SPREAD THE WORD! Thank you.

-Nicole

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