I have written a lot of strong words about “the autistic problem” in this journal, and elsewhere. Words that I am sure have made many people, even fellow Powell types, gasp in shock. So here is another lot that will likely make jawbones hit knees. Today, the passive side of the autistic community, the pleaders and beggars who have no idea how much they hold us back, have done something that Autism Speaks have spent millions of dollars trying to do, and failed.
Today, I am ashamed of being autistic.
Yes, you read that right, passives. You have made me ashamed to be autistic.
In order to understand why I have just said that, I will link a couple of things here. In November of 2008, a man called Tim had this to say about the puzzle piece that Autism Speaks puts on their proverbial flag and claim not only represents us but basically is us. This page is Completely Autistic’s reposting in April of 2012 of same article. The reason I mention that is because I want to make clear that anti-puzzle piece sentiment is not merely some Powell type contrarian quirk. People have very valid and powerful reasons for hating it, and if the world were to suddenly no longer have any normies in it, teachers in classrooms would be telling children what a dirty, disgusting symbol it is.
So imagine my shock today when I clicked on a Fudgebook link and saw this article. Now, in case I have not made it clear in past writings like this one, this one, or this one (just to name three of many), I hate the puzzle piece. I hate it so much that when I see it anywhere, my reaction is like someone is threatening to rape and murder me. Out loud, in front of other people, with their complete and utter approval. Just in case you were wondering.
There is a reason for this, and it is a valid one. It is the symbol of Autism Speaks, a group so committed to removal of every trace of the autistic from the world that they expend literally hundreds of millions of dollars of other peoples’ money in furtherance of that goal. Mention the puzzle piece symbol to anyone, or better yet show to them, and they immediately think of Autism Speaks. More importantly, they think of Autism Speaks’ conception of autism, a parody so offensive in nature that it deserves lawsuits and anti-discrimination laws.
In the past, I have proposed that we start conceiving of and marketing our own symbols to replace the puzzle piece. Whilst the ISO symbol has obvious trademark or copyright issues with it, it is also one of the best symbols to represent us that has ever been accidentally proposed by popular media. So it is not as if it is difficult to come up with a representation that is more effective and positive in a perception sense than the puzzle piece. To me, the puzzle piece emphasises to others that I am not a person, just a mystery to be “solved”. And the problem with that, in a nutshell, is that in Autism Speaks’ weak collective mind, solved means cured, and to me, cured means having my brain ripped out to be replaced with someone else’s. Horror films and science fiction films intended to frighten the viewer have similar themes to that.
So when I read this posting recently, I was horrified. Utterly. Horrified. Although I keep playing the race card over and over, discussions with the black woman who runs a World Of Warcraft guild with me, whilst turning up points of disagreement, also indicated that we can at least agree that being autistic in today’s world is a horribly oppressive way to live. Especially when one is not privileged and secure. Given that my family consists of a head who insists on digging his way back into financial holes like a Dwarf who has found a large deposit of Uridium, and I find the finding of employment near impossible for reasons I will not get into here, I find the manner in which my supposed privilege is used to excuse denying me assistance with my genuine problems utterly disgusting. So talk turned to the fact that whilst she is not completely understanding, we can both agree that we are both in a position of being looked down on by a very powerful and frightening social majority.
So when I see people proposing we “take back” the puzzle piece, I feel sick. As I have said to two different persons purporting to represent the autistic now, this proposal has succeeded in doing something that Autism Speaks spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to do, and failed. Namely, they have made me ashamed of being autistic.
In order to understand that, you need to think of one memory I have of my school days. After a series of acts in one part of the playground that were particularly transgressive, but I still lack proper understanding of, the teacher hauled these classmates out in front of the rest of the class (which included me) and gave them a stern talking to. The words “would not want to be associated with you” figured into the ending of her speech.
The reason the Swastika “still looks to most folks in the West like a Nazi thing”, by the way, Alyssa, is because somewhere in the neighbourhood of twelve million people died as a result of the mindset of those that marched behind and fought under it. Six and change million of those died without a chance to fight back, and solely because of their grandparents’ racial backgrounds. There are many other reasons why the people of Israel will never “take back” the Swastika, but that, I am sure is by far the most important once.
The puzzle piece is only different to ignorant people. The puzzle piece is the symbol that has backed the killing of children that have neurological commonality to me. For that reason, among others, I cannot possibly agree with you that we should use it to represent ourselves. It represents, instead, everything we should be united in hatred of and opposition to. If my ambition to begin an autistic equivalent to the Black Panthers were fulfilled, it would be burning flags with puzzle pieces on them.
Hence, I make you, Alyssa, and all other authors urging us to “take back” this dreadful symbol, a promise. I have a large plastic bag under my bed in which a mattress is contained. Drop this campaign and apologise for it, or I will swallow every pill in my household, inject every drop of insulin, and climb into this bag, where I will be nicely preserved for the police to find. Along with me, they will also find documents attesting to what I have spent a long time complaining of in this journal. Namely, the refusal to listen to my voice on your parts, the abuse from my family, and the fact that Australia, a country where the disability poverty level is higher than that of Mexico, is a shitty place for an autistic adult to live.
You have until February 8 to do this. After that, Odin be with you, because I will not be.