AUTISTIC FUTURE: A FUTURE OF OUR OWN

On Organic, Autistic Space

There are unique joys to gath­er­ing with oth­er Autis­tic peo­ple in a set­ting that isn’t run by neu­rotyp­i­cals and isn’t designed with change, improve­ment, or growth in mind. Autis­tic chil­dren, youth, and adults who have only ever encoun­tered oth­er Autis­tic peo­ple in sup­port groups, social skills train­ing, or sim­i­lar set­tings are miss­ing out on friend­ship, a greater sense of self-deter­mi­na­tion, knowl­edge of com­mu­ni­ty norms, and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to divorce the idea of gain­ing real, func­tion­al social skills from that of try­ing to be indis­tin­guish­able from neu­rotyp­i­cals. These are safe places for peo­ple who may be tired of pass­ing to prac­tice being open­ly Autis­tic before they come out to the world.

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Listening Before You Speak

Find­ing the Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty is an expe­ri­ence like no oth­er, espe­cial­ly for adults who grew up unaware of autism or unaware of peo­ple like them­selves in orga­nized groups. The strong emo­tions of home­com­ing, belong­ing or ner­vous­ness about find­ing a place to belong, pride in a new iden­ti­ty, and joy of a cama­raderie per­haps nev­er before known can be intox­i­cat­ing. The num­ber of peo­ple to meet and amount of infor­ma­tion to absorb seem infi­nite, impos­si­ble. It’s as over­whelm­ing as it would be to stum­ble through a moun­tain pass on a hike and find a lost home­land in the hid­den val­ley below.

Find­ing oth­er Autis­tic peo­ple for the first time is as intense as life expe­ri­ences get, joy­ful but also poten­tial­ly fraught. It’s an event most Autis­tic peo­ple expe­ri­ence, since rel­a­tive­ly few of us grow up with access to the com­mu­ni­ty, but rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle advice exists for nav­i­gat­ing this impor­tant tran­si­tion. One thing per­sons new to the com­mu­ni­ty should know is that they don’t need to join the clam­or of voic­es you hear imme­di­ate­ly. There are actu­al­ly at least a cou­ple of rea­sons that tak­ing some time to get ori­ent­ed before speak­ing out pub­licly may be best for you and the Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty in the long run.

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Learn Something in 2018

Please take the time to learn some­thing about dis­abil­i­ty in 2018. There is no rea­son to think 2018 will be any less chal­leng­ing for the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty in the U.S. than 2017 was. The things that made 2017 so dif­fi­cult are large­ly unchanged. For that rea­son, it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er how to pro­tect the inter­ests of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties when prob­lems arise in the new year. One small step almost any­one can take is becom­ing more informed in 2018.

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The New Star Wars Heroes Grow Up

The con­tro­ver­sial, new Star Wars movie is some­thing dif­fer­ent for the beloved fran­chise. New­com­ers and fans who saw the orig­i­nal trilo­gies in the­aters alike may strug­gle with whether to approve of the shift or not. The film is a mix of strong and weak points, and, far more than The Force Awak­ens, rep­re­sents the torch being hand­ed off to the next gen­er­a­tion of char­ac­ters. This is not anoth­er movie where new pro­tag­o­nists drove the plot along­side char­ac­ters from the orig­i­nal tril­o­gy.

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The End of Net Neutrality

It is dif­fi­cult to keep up with even major devel­op­ments in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and pol­i­cy today. It can be easy to lose sight of appar­ent­ly small changes. One essen­tial thing to keep up with in the com­ing days and weeks is the like­ly demise of net neu­tral­i­ty. This is a grave threat to the kind of Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty most of us con­sid­er worth hav­ing. The pos­si­ble short-term impact on the best sites cater­ing to us could be extreme­ly dam­ag­ing. The long-term impli­ca­tions, while more insid­i­ous and hard­er to pre­dict, may be far worse. If you val­ue a diverse, vibrant Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States, it is in your inter­est to spend some time this week pro­tect­ing net neu­tral­i­ty.

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