Daily Archives: October 29, 2006

My response to the “Articles of Understanding”, on video


The following is my response to the Autism Speaks/GRASP “articles of understanding”, put onto video.

Edit: And now that I know how, here’s a captioned version (sorry for the asynchrony of the captions, they were synchronized when I made the video and YouTube mangled them):

Here’s a transcript, since among other things I can barely edit a video (hence the very short length and lack of detailed writing, at least that’s one of the reasons) and don’t have the expertise or software to caption one. The video just basically shows me sitting on a couch as I play the recorded message on my speech synthesizer, and then at the end my cat decides to jump up and nuzzle me.

This is my response to the Autism Speaks articles of understanding with GRASP, the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership.

I am a non-speaking autistic woman. While I do not agree with functioning labels, I have been labeled low-functioning in the not-too-distant past and am considered severely disabled. People who look at me without seeing me type often think that there is nobody inside me. I have many of the difficulties described in Alison Tepper Singer’s article about her daughter, and more that she did not describe.

It is wrong to say that your own child has no skills. It is wrong to go on a national video and say you have considered killing your autistic child. My parents faced worse hardships with less privilege and never once thought of killing me. It is wrong to condescendingly assume that autistic self-advocates have never heard of those of us labeled low-functioning, and that somehow the so-called low-functioning among us have no skills and need a cure, and that all you needed to do was say we exist and then everyone would understand what you want to do to us.

Our viewpoint was not represented in this “exchange of ideas” between GRASP and Autism Speaks. All the two of you have done is repeat caricatures: The autistic child happy in a world of her own versus the autistic child needing to be cured, high-functioning versus low-functioning, Asperger versus autism, able versus incapable. You have equated differences in the way we function with differences in the amount of rights we deserve. These things are not how we live, and you have avoided the substantial issues, including the fact that it is not only those labeled high-functioning who oppose cure.

Your articles promote misunderstanding, not understanding. Both of you have essentially told the world that I and others like me do not exist. I am here to tell you and the rest of the world that we do.