Wednesday, October 14, 2009


You want to be helpful. Really. Useful. You were surprised, recently to find yourself finally seeing it, the harm that is done by groups like Autism Speaks. That video, that disembodied voice, Big Scary Voice and its claims of destruction, you saw this time how these omnipresent repetitions build a world where autistic people and people with other disabilities are shunned, marginalized, treated in so many ways as less than human. Less than real. You get it now. But what about that walk coming up? What about that inbox filling with walks and runs and bake sales and pledge drives and other pleas for contributions? These have been ways to express your concern for...I don't know...something about autism? Someone you know?
It's harder now, maybe, to know what to do, now that you've seen how one large and powerful group monopolizes the public attention, drains it, until the stream of misinformation is absorbed unquestioned, unnoticed even. It's harder now, and that's a good thing.
Here are some options to consider while you are not "walking for autism."
  • Make a contribution to an organization for autistics by autistics, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
  • Contribute to another disability rights organization.
  • Donate money or time to a homeless shelter or food bank in your area. The unemployment rate for autistic people is extremely high, more so even than the rate for people with disabilities in general. There are many autistic people living on the streets and in shelters.
  • Sponsor a registration at Autreat for someone who would not otherwise be able to go.
  • Read more blogs by autistic people. There are some folks out there who are struggling. A word of encouragement might make a difference to someone who is desperate.
  • Lobby for an end to seclusion rooms and restraints in schools.
  • Challenge inaccessible spaces, wherever you find them.
  • Invest in companies that include people with disabilities in key roles.
  • When you see someone being bullied or harassed, intervene. It is not enough to just not actively participate.
  • Invite an autistic person to lunch.
  • If the person agrees, then have lunch. Talk. Listen.
  • Listen.
  • This might take a long time. Listen more.
  • Consider expanding your definitions of words like "listening," "speaking," and "communication."
  • Repeat as needed.
Thank you for your contribution.


  1. Great post. This needs to be turned into a flyer and distributed in every city where Autism Speaks is planning a walk.

  2. Great post.

    You're not kidding about the unemployment rate part. I've been out of work for about 8 months. It normally takes me 10 to find a new job, but I have a feeling it's going to be even worse in this economy. Not sure what I'll do when my unemployment benefits run out this time.

  3. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!!! Thanks for lessening my considerable ingnorance. We parents have a lot to learn. I have been wishing lately the admin would give precedence to the wise, those who live the life.


  4. >> This needs to be turned into a flyer and distributed in every city where Autism Speaks is planning a walk.

    Been thinking about this as I hear the local AS Walk advertised on the radio. It'll need a good deal of paring down and also the removal of the assumption that they already understand the problem with what AS does.

    That's a longer explaination than a flyer, I expect. It takes Bev several minutes with video props to hit home.

    I'm still mulling appropriate wording...and whether to have my son endure the walking.

  5. Great post !

    Would you please tell me what you mean exactly by "challenging inaccessible spaces wherever you find them" ? What form has this "challenging" to take ?

    Thanks for this list,

  6. @Oktarin
    Can't speak for Bev, and if anyonehas more to add or disagrees, feel free to correct/add/whatever.

    In my experience challenging a space is precisely that: from simply filing a comment with whoever's managing the space ("You know, I don't think G group can use this S space"), through writing to the space's upper management, picketing the space, and in some cases deliberately attempting to use space that isn't accessible to the attempting user but bloody well ought to be.

    Note that the challenge one makes depends on the situation and (more importantly) one's comfort level. If you don't think challenging at a particular place or time would be beneficial, then don't do it.

    In short, the challenger makes those who control the space (and sometimes the public as well) aware that the space is inaccessible, and that inaccessibility is a real problem that needs solved.

  7. Great post.

    I particularly like the last few. No... I'm not talking about "free lunches" just having some company who wants to listen and accept.

  8. >> •Invest in companies that include people with disabilities in key roles.

    I'm looking and this point and coming up blank. Can someone give me example companies for this? Tips for tracking these down?

  9. Wow. It is so good to be back. I have always loved your blog and have missed so much. You keep me motivated and moving in the right direction.

  10. I admire you so much, Bev. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us all.

    xo karen

  11. Love this post! So true! I will forward to my friend who I am hoping will see the light, too. Missy
    P.S. Age 6 now and she still loves 8.

  12. beautiful. inspiring. helpful. thank you.

  13. I love this. Thanks for making the list!


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