Daily Archives: August 6, 2006

Joel’s site move, and his “Autistic Professionals” post.

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Joel’s website and blog have both moved.

His website is now http://www.thiswayoflife.org/

His blog is not http://www.thiswayoflife.org/blog/

I haven’t updated my links yet, but people should. Particularly a lot of people have linked to this page:

http://www.thiswayoflife.org/murder.html

The old Geocities site will not be updated so it’s important to update that link. (Again, not that I’ve got around to it yet.)

His current blog post, You Can be Autistic or a Professional, but Not Both also interests me. It’s about how when autistic people are professionals, non-autistic people in autism circles are more likely to view auties as just “talking from their own personal experience” and discounting any particular expertise they actually had to learn.

That’s a lot like what happens to Michelle Dawson. Never mind that she’s an autism researcher with an interest in ethics, people still think she’s speaking only from personal experience as an autistic person, and still try to paint the issue in terms of what kind of autistic person she is (or is not).

And while I’m not a professional, I do have a particular interest in certain areas of ethics, politics, and history. I’ve known a few autistic people very well, and a lot of autistic people at least a little. I’ve read any book that I can get my hands on by an autistic person. I’ve known autistic people from all over the so-called spectrum in any number of settings. I’ve participated in advocacy efforts within the disability rights movement, the psychiatric survivor/ex-patient movement, and the autistic community. While I’m not officially recognized for any of this, it accumulates into a wide-ranging bunch of knowledge that sits in the back of my head and informs everything I do.

Yet when I talk about autism or disability rights in general, people quickly reduce everything I’m saying to a product of my own experience and only my own experience. They brush aside and ignore all that other experience and the wide variety of worldviews I’ve been exposed to, and assume that every ethical discussion I get into is rooted in my experience and mine alone, or even my real or imagined neurotype in the so-called spectrum and mine alone, rather than my opinions having any merit for other reasons.

So it’s not just professionals we don’t get to be. It’s anything that acknowledges our ability to gain significant knowledge from outside our own experiences. And people say we are the ones who can’t take others’ perspectives.