Monday, April 20, 2015

Autism Acceptance Challenge 13: Explore the Archives

It had been a long time since I’d visited the archives at If you have been around for a while, you may remember when was still being updated regularly. You may remember when it was one of a very few places to find writing by and about autistic people. There were not a lot of autistic bloggers in the early 2000’s. There was no ASAN. There were a couple of online communities where there was way too much talk of functioning labels and separatism for me to stomach. was one of the first places I could go to read the stories of like minded people.

In revisiting the site in preparation for this post, I expected to find some outdated language and perhaps problematic ideas. Given the number of posts on my own blog that I would not have written today (or would have written very differently) this seemed a reasonable expectation. There are a few broken links, but fewer than I'd expected. The page about's presence on Second Life is still intact. What surprised me a little was the number of articles that are still so very relevant.

From The Conference Presentation I Won’t Make (But Want To) by Laura A. Tisoncik: “The experience of being one of three autistics at a large conference dedicated to autism is somewhat like that of being one of three mothers at a large conference dedicated to Motherhood.” Have we made any progress in this arena? Enough?

Mel Baggs’ How to Become an Autism Expert instructs would-be authorities to study their vocabulary words, including “divisive,” “infighting,” and “unity.” Didn't I just have this argument last week? Are we still fighting the same warped definitions of “community” all these years later?

Joel Smith reminds us that we do not need to discount the experiences of others in order to have pride in ourselves and our community in Autistic Pride Day: Do We Celebrate it Right?

From is just one of the places to start exploring the history of the autistic rights movement. Here are some others:

Please post other links to Autistic history in the comments. 

CHALLENGE: Read some of these articles. Don't limit yourself to the ones I listed here.
If you've read them before, choose a couple to read again. Respond by answering one or more of these questions:
1.       What has changed for autistic people since these pieces were written?
2.       What still needs to change?
3.       Why does our history matter? Or does it?


  1. This post made me reread a (really long) assignment I wrote 2 years ago for my masters in autism about autistic writers. I've shared it on my blog temporarily. In it I discuss the impact that autistic people writing about their lives has had. I referred back to all those places like Wrong Planet and as well as anthologies of old and new pieces like The Loud Hands Project. In the time since the pieces I read 13 years ago when Ryan was diagnosed, it is easier for more people to share their views with free and relatively easy to use online publishing platforms. Even now though, the views of parents and professionals are given precedence over those of people who are actually autistic. Oh and twitter is another change- it's been great to see the way folk have taken over hash tags and created new ones to combine their voices.
    As to why this history matters- it's a story of human rights that is ongoing. The history of all such campaigns for rights is important. The work you and other people have put into making it known that autism rights are human rights will benefit all autistic people like my son who will I hope grow up in a world more understanding and accepting of his neurological diversity.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment and for posting your assignment. I am looking forward to reading it!


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