Daily Archives: June 8, 2006

Autistic Pride Day — and taking things personally.

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June 18th is apparently Autistic Pride Day.

It’s come to my attention that the people who initially put it together think that there’s been some kind of collossal snub [edit:  Amy says they didn’t say “colossal snub”, but I was told they thought it was something negative towards them at any rate] on the part of autistics.org, in that we didn’t announce it last year on our front page, and Joel Smith wrote an article about his reservations towards the way some autistic people conceptualize autistic pride.

So just to clear that up:

Last year on June 18th, one of the webmasters of autistics.org was in the midst of a 3100-mile move, others were preparing for Autreat, and another was sick in bed with an infection of some sort. I can’t speak for the others, but at the time, Autistic Pride Day was barely making a blip on my personal radar screen. It was just one of a whole lot of events and such that people were talking about. And, just for more fun, we were experiencing a website outage.

As far as Joel was concerned, I’m not going to claim to read his mind, but I’m going to hazard a guess from what I know of him. Joel, like me, is very concerned about a false form of “autistic pride” that is really merely “pride for some auties at the expense of others”. The kind of “pride” that allows Temple Grandin to say that she’d rather non-speaking auties not exist, but auties like her are okay and beneficial to society.

I doubt he knew much, if anything, about who was putting on Autistic Pride Day, and the reservations were probably of a more general nature. The notion of “I hope this isn’t yet another form of disability pride that’s founded on fundamentally ableism principles” is one that tends to cross my mind when presented with any form of “disability pride”. I kno someone who was surprised to find out that among many wheelchair users, “disability pride” was actually some variant on “At least I’m not retarded.” As someone involved in several disability communities, I know that many do have ableist versions of “pride”, this is not something made up to spite a particular person.

(Unfortunately, the opinion Joel voices is one that often gets wrongly condensed into the notion of “We shouldn’t talk about our strengths,” which is not, I think, what he’s saying at all.)

So, no, nobody on autistics.org was insulting any particular person who put on Autistic Pride Day by either failing to mention it on our front page (we don’t mention everything in the world on our front page anyway), or by the article Joel wrote.

Unless, of course, anyone celebrating on Autistic Pride Day did turn out to be doing the things Joel wrote about, but given that I don’t think he knew anyone putting it on, he wasn’t talking about any particular person involved in it, and wasn’t trying to undermine the whole day. It was in fact my impression, reading the article, that he was in fact attempting to enhance Autistic Pride Day by providing discussion of what were good and bad ways to celebrate being autistic.

So as tempting as it might be to consider oneself to be under extreme attack by reading a whole lot that wasn’t said into that article and into our silence, there was no attack, extreme or otherwise, there. You’re not dealing with hostility, you’re dealing with (mostly) some combination of incapacitation, being busy, unawareness, and indifference, as well as enough experience in the autistic community to know that “autistic pride” can be done both well and badly and to desire that it be done well instead of badly.

So, again, no snubbing is or was going on here. It might be useful to make fewer assumptions, though. I find it very strange that failing to link to something would be considered an attack in the first place. If I thought that anyone who didn’t link to autistics.org was attacking us, even if I limited this to the autistic community I’d be imagining myself a lot of non-existent enemies. This aspect of things reminds me of people in the offline world who think that by failing to notice or talk to them I’m being stuck-up or rude, when really I am processing them as a bunch of moving shapes and incapable of conversational speech.

So consider this my announcement of Autistic Pride Day, and my explanation of why what some people apparently think they saw, wasn’t actually there in the first place. I don’t know a lot about Autistic Pride Day, even still, so I can’t really point out what it is or anything, but it’s out there.