I was reading the Disability Studies Quarterly articles that I'm supposed to have read before the ASAN Autism Campus Inclusion thing started (I'm typing this from DC, already there, since I wound up finishing the readings on the plane. Yes, the one that inspired this post was one of the ones read on the plane.)
Reading about the "Ransom Notes" campaign of 2007 and the Disability community/Autistic community response to it, I saw that one mother wrote a bit of a spoof of the ransom note used for autism in the ill-written campaign. So, six years late, I made my own version:
Now I'm going to talk about it.Dear Autism,You don't have me. I don't have you. You are a part of me. An important part, but not the only one. I will make sure to use the useful parts of you, and I will work with or around the harder parts.Oh, and you're coming with me on the fight for our rights.This is only the beginning.Alyssa
Autism having me would be kind of silly. Autism is a label that we apply to certain kinds of different brains, and a label having a person just seems silly to me.
Me having autism? Well, I'll use "has autism" in jokes on occasion, like "I have autism and I'm not afraid to use it!" or "I have ALL the autism and you can't have any," but I am very strongly (capitalized) identity-first (and sometimes identity-only) for how I refer to myself. No, really. Calling me a person with autism because you don't know my preference just gets you politely corrected and I'm not even annoyed. Kind of annoyed if you correct someone else because you think they're messing up by calling me autistic, but I'll still be pretty polite. Correct me on what I call myself, though, especially if you keep trying after I tell you that I am well aware of person-first language and choose not to use it, and you are only entitled to as much respect as you're giving me: That's zero, by the way.
As for useful parts, I am hyperlexic/hypergraphic, and I have really good pattern recognition. All your four leaf clovers are found by me. Well, not all, but I find enough that I can and do sell four leaf clover bookmarks and such. I'll probably get them offered in the etsy store crowdsourcing Autreat trips for Autistic people once the store exists.
The harder parts are things like sensory issues, not always being capable of oral speech (but mostly other people being bad about it, since I have text to speech on my laptop,) difficulty with open-ended questions that can be meltdown-inducing at times, some trouble figuring out where I am in space, things like that.
Rights is things like self-determination, being able to get organ transplants, being able to demand and actually get access to public places, and just general not being discriminated against.
And of course, this is only the beginning. Later stuff includes writing an Autistic musical. I already have a decent number of ideas, and I'm fleshing out some of the characters a bit. Rights are important, and we need culture too, with the space to develop it.