Daily Archives: March 19, 2006

Intact prejudices about non-autistic disabled people


I am going through my hard drive after moving a bunch of files from an old computer to a new computer. I may be using those files, or parts of those files, as blog entries, if I find anything sufficiently interesting.

I have a file in front of me that I must have written when fed up with autism groups online. I wrote a whole long list of things I was fed up with. Some of them are relevant only to a particular flamewar, and those won’t get repeated, but some of them are generic (and not even things that were happening in that flamewar, necessarily), and regardless of what emotional state I was in when I wrote them, they’re real when I’m calm, too.

The first thing on the list is that even in autistic-dominated groups, people frequently retain conventional prejudices about disabled people who are not autistic, or who are autistic and something else too.

This isn’t really surprising to me. I have encountered conventional prejudices about autistic people while involved in political groups for physically disabled people, people with developmental disabilities (which are usually dominated by non-autistic people), and psychiatric ex-patients. It’s not surprising (to me at least) that autistic people do the same thing as everyone else on this matter, because without direct knowledge we (anyone) a lot of times believe what we’re taught. Which is one reason that I find it really important to have a background in several of these areas, rather than just one.

Instead of going over each and every detail of the common things people believe, I’m just going to provide some websites that, if you haven’t been exposed to these ideas before (or even if you have), may be really interesting:

Disabled and Proud (ended up hunting this one down again after an autistic person told me there was no comparison between autistic and other disabled people because disability could never be a basis for pride, and I’ve heard this from more than just him)

Laura Hershey’s Articles (because some people who hate CAN still think the telethon is wonderful)

I am a person, not a disease. (because so many people say it would be okay to screen us out if we could only screen out “retarded” people)

Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient (because autistic people tend to believe the same things about “psychiatric patients” as everyone else does)

Oral History Project (likewise)

LLF (…and likewise)

People First win freedom in Tennessee (because a mother told me once that it must have been the parents that did it, because people with intellectual disabilities couldn’t possibly do anything like this)

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (likewise)

Not Dead Yet (because autistic people, like a lot of people, often still think they’re merely being “objective” when they say that a certain kind or level of disability reduces “quality of life” and thus reason to be alive in the first place, no matter how many scientific researchers contradict this almost in spite of themselves, no matter how many disabled people of all kinds say otherwise)

Mouth Magazine and Ragged Edge Magazine are both magazines that try not to be specific to a particular category of disabled people, although it does inevitably happen sometimes. (Be prepared for the fact that both include some people who believe the mercury moms, which is IMO a weakness in a lot of groups believing that anything that looks like a government coverup probably is.)

You may notice when going through those pages, that some people on them have a prejudiced or distorted view of us, autistic people. That’s true. It’s equally true that too many of us have a prejudiced or distorted view of them, and reading these things might make you think twice (they certainly made me think twice about some things).