AUTISTIC FUTURE: A FUTURE OF OUR OWN

March 1st, 2019

Disability Day of Mourning 2019

Dis­abil­i­ty Day of Mourn­ing is here again, and fil­i­cides con­tin­ue. Again, we remem­ber peo­ple we’ve lost and hope for a year when no names are added to the list. Again, we remem­ber the dead who may not have many out­side of the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty to look back on them fond­ly. Again, we reflect on the many good years they lost. Most of them were very young. Again, we con­sid­er what we, the liv­ing, lost by their deaths. The ones we lost were most­ly chil­dren who might have grown up to engage with the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty. Now, we will nev­er know them.

We, the liv­ing, also lose by fear, by stress, by the pres­sure these killings and oth­er man­i­fes­ta­tions of ableism put on us to con­stant­ly prove our full human­i­ty and jus­ti­fy the val­ue of our lives. Fil­i­cide, and the way in which apol­o­gists for it come out of the wood­work to jus­ti­fy it when it takes place, is, after all, just an extreme iter­a­tion of the back­ground ableism that exists in soci­ety every day. The shad­ow of these killings, the stig­ma placed on need­ing help or own­ing up to dis­abil­i­ty, being per­ceived as a bur­den, and poten­tial exclu­sion from every­thing from social belong­ing to ade­quate health­care dri­ve too many peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to con­stant­ly try to prove their util­i­ty in all aspects of their lives. Instead of stay­ing in the work­place, where that kind of think­ing may belong, many try to be con­stant­ly use­ful every­where, at all times, to the detri­ment of their health and rela­tion­ships. This pres­sure cuts across the lines of degree of sup­port needs, class, race, gen­der and gen­der iden­ti­ty, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, and reli­gion to trou­ble much of the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty.

It will only leave us, and fil­i­cides will only stop, when we rec­og­nize the intrin­sic val­ue of every human being and make our com­mu­ni­ties tru­ly inclu­sive. Only then will vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple con­sis­tent­ly have the kinds of rela­tion­ships that will lead some­one to step in if some­thing looks amiss with a care­giv­er and every oppor­tu­ni­ty to be heard and believed when they need to report abuse. We can help the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple resist this kind of sense­less vio­lence, but we have to care about them and pri­or­i­tize them in the way we only will when we val­ue their lives equal­ly with all oth­er human lives first. If we want fil­i­cide to stop, we have to decide once and for all that there is more to life than being con­ven­tion­al­ly use­ful.

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