listening, continued

Part One


“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.” — Arundhati Roy

That quote is atop Lydia Brown’s blog, Autistic Hoya.

It is, in a nutshell, why I do what I do, and in particular, why I feel compelled not only to seek out autistic voices, not only to listen to and learn from their perspectives, but to ensure that others hear them as well.

I have a platform here at Diary. One that I stumbled into over time, but one that now presents an undeniable opportunity. An opportunity that comes, as all opportunities do, with responsibility. And it’s a responsibility that I take to heart.

Because I’ve seen what the silencing of autistic voices does.

I’ve seen the effects of telling those who struggle to communicate to stop talking.

As a devoted fan of irony, I’d take a moment to bask in that sentence were it not so horrific.

I’ve seen what happens when we make laws and create movements and fight to influence public opinion without consulting the people for whom we are making, creating and fighting.

I’ve seen what happens when we become so entrenched in our own ideology that we simply refuse to allow anyone in who isn’t part of our own personal sycophantic chorus.

I’ve seen what it does when we pervert the language of the disability rights movement into fodder for inside jokes at the expense of the people we say we are fighting for.

I’ve seen the effects build over time until people — real, live, beautiful, strong people — finally break.

I’ve seen.

And I can’t unsee.

“When you know better, you do better,” said Maya Angelou.

Eight years into this journey, I know better.

So I am now accountable to do better.

For my daughter, and the adult that she will grow to be, I’m trying.

In the sidebar, you will find links to all of the following, listed under Vital Perspective from Autistic Adults. I urge you to visit them. Get to know them. Hear what they have to say.

Thank you.

Amy Sequenzia

Autism and Empathy

Autism Women’s Network

Autistic Hoya

Bec at Snagglebox

Illusion of Competence

Incipient Turvy

John Robison

Just Stimming

Kate – Aspie from Maine

Kerry Magro

No Stereotypes Here

Paula Durbin-Westby


Tiny Grace Notes (Ask an Autistic)

Unstrange Mind

Yes, That Too

16 thoughts on “listening, continued

  1. Partly because of you, I didn’t like the AS walk t-shirts this year: they have only children on them! Ticked me off that adults aren’t represented.

  2. This is why you are amazing and opening the doors for more acceptance and understanding. Our children will grow up and who better to learn from than those who have been there?

  3. Hi Jess

    I’m autistic, and I just wondered if you’d like to put up my blog too. I’ve been writing every day since the 1st of January this year. It’s not specifically about autism or anything else, just my ramblings about life as I see it.

    Inner-city-living-but-really-from-way-up-North autistic dentist who wants to get a blue unicorn tattoo and whose walls are covered with drawings. That’s me 🙂

    Amanda xx

  4. Did you know that you are featured on the new Autism Speaks campaign “Maybe”? Check it out….I saw it on fb…..I personally take great issue with AS but I understand that your blogs are most likely public so AS can use them is they like….

    • i saw that, thanks. and i take issue with a lot of what they do too, but i also remain engaged with them so that i can (hopefully) help to influence positive change there.

  5. Thank you, Jess. For always making me think; for shining your flashlight back down the path to those of us 10 steps (or 6 years) behind you to let us catch up.

    My 5 year old son was asking me a few nights ago to explain “opportunity”. I said “It’s a chance, sweetheat. A chance to do something good.”

    Thank you for seeing your platform as an opportunity and truly doing something for the good of our kiddos and the autistic adults who are blazing the trails they will walk.

  6. Jess, (or any other posters) I need your help – do you happen to have a favorite post – yours or someone else’s – that speaks to the issue of silencing and very clearly defines it? I understand what it is, but can’t quite put it into words. I’m looking for something that non-autistics will get because I want to repost on a forum that might need this information. There are some that will refuse to see their own behavior, but I feel I need to share this for the others that will nod and say “oh” to themselves, then make changes in their interactions. Thank you for your help with this.

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