23 February 2013

Autistics should/Dear allies

This is a response to Trungles's post "Dear Liberal Allies – what your college courses on oppression didn’t tell you." Reading that may provide the stylistic and philosophical reasons for my own post.

Trigger warning: descriptions of ableist encounters, verbal abuse, violence, murder, and rape.


You learn that ableism is oppression, discrimination, and prejudice against the disabled or those presumed disabled.

Learning about ableism for me was putting a name to when my middle school history teacher made a dyslexic, multiply-disabled student spell "vicissitudes" on the whiteboard in front of everywhere. Ableism is the word that puts a name to that time when someone kept saying, "autistics should be killed." Or when the hospital denied transplant eligibility because someone's mentally disabled and only because they're mentally disabled. Or when my friend's parent forced them into unnecessary surgeries for the sake of looking more "normal." Or when my high school English teacher told me to "just get over" my sensory difficulties.

Ableism is the word that puts a name to being told not to tell other people that you're autistic in case they'll make fun of you.

Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that journalists, who are supposed to be objective yet committed to compassion and justice, say that people with psychiatric disabilities are inhuman and a problem of society, or that autistics like me are incapable of experiencing or understanding feelings. Or when they say we're a public health crisis. Or when they say we're monsters who need to be locked up for the good of society because we're dangerous. Or when politicians and universities and news producers consult everyone but actually disabled people on disability issues, hold panels on multiple perspectives on disability, and do all of this without any actually disabled people, and say that that's because a we have nothing valuable to say.

Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that people ask whether murderers and rapists were "off their drugs" or wonder "what mental ward they escaped from." Or when people assume that institutions are good and staff in them are decent. Or when a father says his daughter's only choice is a segregated, gated community, and claims that that's the only possible choice she would ever make.

Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that parents and caregivers murder disabled children, or when the media exculpatory them, or when hundreds of non-disabled parents flock to their defense. And when actually disabled people are called heartless, incapable of empathy, and not understanding someone else's perspective when we mourn for the loss of those disabled people.

Because when people can say, "autistics should be killed" with impunity and hardly more than a second glance from the public, that's ableism. And when people can say those are just words and they can't hurt, and they're ignoring the actually real, actually present danger to Autistics who dare to speak up -- death threats, rape threats, actual assaults, and murder -- that's not merely privilege; that's fucking privilege.

And allies -- understand that ableism is not a game. Ableism is not being offended. Ableism is abuse and violence and murder. Ableism is what gets us killed and our killers acquitted in the court of public opinion and often the court of law. These are our lives, and that's exactly what's at stake.


  1. Trigger warning: discussion of abuse

    Ableism puts a name to the child who's entire life is devoted to surgeries and therapies in order to "normalize them". Ableism is that feeling when all your peers are going to soccer and dance, you're going to your fourth doctor's appointment of the week.

    Ableism is that feeling when you are being raped for the fifth time this week as punishment for not acting "able-bodied enough".

    Ableism is being scrutinized and having your personal life under the spotlight every moment. Ableism is having people ask you about your medical history before asking you what your name is.

    Ableism is having to tell the government how much you make, how often you shower and shave, and how many times a day you take a crap so you can get the accommodations you need.

    Ableism is having to transfer to a third school just so you can continue to get the education you want. Ableism is having to prove to the government that your dreams are worthy enough so you can go to school.

    Ableism is having people reduce you to nothing more than your disability.

    Ableism is that helpless feeling when people control your environment and what information you have access to.

    Ableism is relying on approval from able-bodied people for everything, and having them decide everything for you. When's the last time your doctor / disability counselor / teacher had your same disability, or even had A disability?

    Ableism is having people assume you could be violent or attempt murder, when in fact you've been the victim of violence and murder attempts.

    Ableism is when people think electric shock therapy is actually a "therapy" and not just torture.

    1. To Anonymous:

      Thank you for speaking.


  2. This is so many levels of fucking right

  3. I agree with all your statements as well as the statement if anyone actually suggested autistics should die, but the fear generated by the Google auto-complete search algorithm are not justified by how that Google process works.

    If one actually types in the words autistics should die, without the quotes for a search, there are millions of results, however the results overall are rhetorical statements and questions that ally the fact that autistics don't kill and they should not be killed.

    It is the same when one types in autistics should be exterminated without the quotes. The auto-complete function is the google automated process of taking an algorithm of words in vigilant opinions by so many people on the spectrum and off the spectrum making rhetorical statements and questions associated with it is not okay for autistics to die or be killed.

    I think here what could be amplified is a negative turned into a positive that the vigilance in support of autistic people by persons on and off the spectrum is great in the general population.

    The sense that the world is in support of autistics is extremely important to the self-esteem of autistics. To find the world supports them can be extremely encouraging, as the thought that people really want autistics to die or be exterminated can be emotionally damaging. Google results generated by auto-complete searches on the key words extermination and die provide actual results of overwhelming support.

    Unfortunately that is not true for keyword auto-complete searches in some other identified disabilities, as the actual search results for some of them are overall horrifying. I don't want to mention the keywords, as it will only increase the potential of the auto-complete process leading to actual horrible results.

    Thautcast, took his thread down, on the auto-complete results in Google for "Autistics should" but the hurt expressed in that thread, in over 100 comments was evidence of how much it hurts people on the spectrum to think the world wants them to die or be exterminated. The actual google results provide evidence that it is not true. That is the message autistic people need to hear the most. That people in the general population, overall, do support them.:).

    1. Although the search -results- are a result of linking and interlinking and text content and metadata and such and are supportive and good, the google auto-complete is based on -what people are searching for-. It wouldn't autocomplete to "Autistic people should be exterminated" unless people searched that phrase more than "autistic people should be loved".

    2. Unfortunately algorithms don't have the ability to determine intention. A search for a rhetorical statement or the potential that someone might have said a statement somewhere impacts the algorithm the same.

      The issue about Autistic people being murdered by their parents has been a hot topic of searches by people in the actual autistic community that have been concerned about it for years.

      The same is the case with the term autistic and extermination as this is a topic continuously discussed and searched in the autistic community, for almost 10 years now.


      Google uses many factors in it's algorithms some of which do not include human intervention and are based on keywords most often indexed on webpages.

      People in the general public most often use people first language in describing disabilities per political correctness. The disability first term Autistic to describe people with the diagnosis is used less often.

      The evidence is in the algorithms and auto-complete because when one types in People with Autism should, there are no hate speech results. Commonly asked questions in the general public like should people with autism have kids, get married, and drive comes up.

      Google does block hate speech associated with disabilities but it is limited and does not include all potential word associations including disability first identifiers.

      A myth has been created in the Autism Community that people want to exterminate people on the spectrum, and a myth has been created in the autism community that parents of children on the spectrum are more likely to kill their children than parents of non-autistic children. Those myths are not substantiated by fact.

      And the myth being generated in this case is that people in the general population are typing in the exact phrase "Autistic should die, be killed, or be exterminated when these are the terms that have been discussed and amplified in the autism community for close to a decade on the internet. But, not in the much larger world. If that were the case there would be results other than people on the spectrum saying these exact phrases on the internet. And there would be results in auto complete in people first disability language, such as people with autism, or children with autism, but there is not.

      The biggest problem is when young people come into autism communities looking for support they are believing these myths and it is a source of significant emotional harm. I watched it in real time for almost a year. I don't want to see people hurting when there is no rational reason for them to hurt. There is enough for people on the spectrum to deal with already.

  4. Correction, Thautcast did not take the post down, I must have overlooked it, but I think in a way that is good as one can see how emotionally damaging it can be to autistics to think the world wants them to die or be exterminated, even if the the world does not feel that way per the actual results of what they are really saying in the results of the Google algorithm generated auto-complete searches.

  5. Kate Mia- I have missed you commenting on various blogs lately. I appreciate that you often look carefully at the details before jumping to conclusions. Thanks!

  6. http://www.facebook.com/katie.mia.10

    Thank you Anonymous. As a person who grew up on the spectrum without a diagnosis early on, the last thing I would have wanted to hear is that people wanted to kill me because I had a diagnostic label.

    There are people in the world that accept differences in other people and others don't. It doesn't require a label to receive that kind of unfortunate treatment, and while laws can enforce accommodations, they can't enforce the kind of humanity in people to have heartfelt acceptance for others who are different.

    The actual search results provide evidence that people still have that kind of humanity. At least in the case for the label of autistic.

    I did not give up my hope for humanity, when almost everyone in my social environment in school told me in not very kind terms that my existence was not welcome. The reason for that was that I had parents that told me that there were good people in the world that cared for those that were different.

    I gave it enough time and enough people to find out they were correct. I continue to spread that message and seem to see the glass half full when others see it close to empty at times. I look intently for the positive in life and usually find it. When I do it is still the treasure it was from decades before.

    I continue to comment in many areas on the internet where I remain welcome, posting under various anonymous user names on different sites and keep a record of it on my facebook page linked above. Lydia here is kind enough to tolerate my support of what I see as the good in life.:). The potential value of the message to me is more important than identity.


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