These are signs that an Autistic is a token. Be aware of them and avoid them!
- There are no other Autistic people on a board, council, or committee.
If an organization, council, or committee represents, governs, advises, or leads an entity whose primary focus is on autism related issues, serving or supporting Autistic people, or representing the autism community in any way, there ought to be at least a few Autistic people serving on the board, council, or committee. In fact, there should be as many Autistics as possible, given that purpose. (Wouldn't it be odd if an organization serving the LGBTQ community had only one or no LGBTQ people in the leadership?)
- The Autistic person has no real responsibilities or duties, and is not expected to contribute substantively.
This is simply more evidence that the Autistic person is there solely so that those in charge can say that they have an Autistic person participating or in a leadership position. This can happen especially when the Autistic person is given an important-sounding title, such as "Vice Chair" or "Co-Executive Director" or "Program Coordinator." The Autistic person in this position is frequently assumed to be incapable of carrying out actual responsibilities. Conversely, the Autistic person may be actively impeded in attempting to take on responsibilities.
- The Autistic person is not expected to express opinions, and in fact is expected to comply quietly with the organization's official platform.
This happens when an Autistic person is actively or passively prevented from expressing his or her opinions or ideas, particularly of the organization that has included or appointed him or her, and expected to go along with whatever the organization's leaders say or do without protest, even if they do or say something that the Autistic finds offensive, hurtful, demeaning, or ineffective.
- The leader(s) admits that the Autistic person was included or appointed solely or primarily because he or she is Autistic and not because he or she was otherwise qualified to serve or work in that position.
This is also called "bad affirmative action." Yes, if it's about autism, you should have Autistic involved at all steps of the process because they are Autistic, but people should always be qualified to be doing what they are doing. If we're talking about a scientific research review board that reviews papers about autism-related studies, the Autistics involved should have a scientific background of some sort. (If they're community grant reviewers, that's a different story.) If we're talking about the administration of an autism-specific school, the Autistics involved should either have attended such a program in the past or have an educational background. If we're talking about an executive officer position in a nonprofit serving Autistics, the Autistic hired should be otherwise qualified to be in an executive position. We are not identical people who can be substituted for each other like mass-produced clones.
- The Autistic person is excluded from the decision-making process or main working process.
This defeats the purpose of meaningfully including Autistic people altogether. If an Autistic serves on a board or council or committee, he or she should have as much say in the decision or working processes as anyone else.
- There are no plans or intentions to include or appoint other Autistics.
When this happens, it is clear that the Autistic included or appointed is a token representing the bare minimum of effort required to appear to have included Autistic people.
- The Autistic person is treated in a condescending and patronizing manner by colleagues, and this is considered acceptable and normal.
This is also called workplace bullying, hazing, and ableism. Don't talk to us in a baby voice. Don't praise us for every ordinary thing expected of everyone, like showing up on time, putting things in the recycling bin, or finding a parking space. Don't treat our opinions and ideas as meaningless fantasies. Respect us because we are people.
- Any leader in the organization treats the inclusion or appointment of the Autistic person as an, "oh how sweet" or "oh how nice" moment.
- The inclusion or appointment of the Autistic person is made out of pity.
See 4 and 7.