Welcoming Your Dissent: A Poem

I am striving to listen
to respond to the message
I need to be welcoming
to your dissent

There has to be room for dissent…
or the ‘yes’ is meaningless

Honouring you
your self-determination
is not about what is easier for me
at the end of a long day
or what sounds polite

There has to be room for dissent…
or else the ‘yes’ is meaningless…

If you cannot yet use pretty tones
should your voice be silenced?
If you cannot yet dance
should you not be allowed to take a step?
If you cannot yet sing your advocacy
must you be silent and surrender yourself?
Abandon self-determination
smile your ‘yes’
as you bury your soul
as you lose yourself to my agenda

There has to be room for dissent…
or else the ‘yes’ is meaningless!!

Leah Kelley, January 2013



30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in Autism, Autism Poem, Parent, poem, poetry, relationships, self-advocacy, Silence and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Welcoming Your Dissent: A Poem

  1. rebelmommy says:

    Oh, you know I love this! Dissent, deviation, change, rebel words…And meaningless would be my enemy too. A forced yes is an absolute NO! on the other side. There has to be room for all of us. Thanks Leah.


  2. Colin Bowman says:

    “as you bury your soul
    as you lose yourself to my agenda”
    What we musn’t allow.

    “there must be room for dissent”
    So true.


  3. To ask someone who happens to have a disability to be less than who they are in their heart of hearts, because one disagrees with or simply doesn’t understand what that person is trying to communicate, does more than silence that person.


  4. Jean says:

    Wow, this just spoke volumes to me. B is 15, so he’s pretty much at the apex of “dissent”!!!! Thanks for reminding me that while it drives me crazy, it’s part of the process of growing up and learning to be independent!


  5. lare says:

    So true…there has to be room for all of us…


  6. AspieKid says:

    I used to wait until I was beyond capacity too, and would not respond well when advocacy was finally necessary. I still don’t like the fact that so many people need me to “advocate” before they will accept me for what I am. At some point I did learn to try to see it all from the perspective of others. Then I could try to “sing the messages of advocacy”. I try to use my blog for that. In real life I usually just avoid people who need me to advocate for myself. It becomes exhausting otherwise.


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this, AspieKid. You do a beautiful job with your blog and it is such a powerful medium for expression and to build understanding for your perspective as an autistic adult. I have learned so much from you. I agree that this is different than advocating in real-time, or when you are out of spoons. I hold tightly to the hope that real-time advocacy will become easier (and perhaps even less necessary) as our society moves toward a more inclusive and understanding response to the broad spectrum of diversity that exists within our human experience.


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  11. D. says:

    One of the first, and always the best, thing my five year old communicated when she started using her iPad — “Please leave me alone” — she repeatedly pressed that button while looking at me. I had been pushing her too hard in a lesson. I wanted to hug her for so beautifully and wonderfully telling me off. So I apologized and we took a break, while inside I was so overcome. Those words were sweeter than any I love yous. Ever. They said she was confident enough in our relationship to show her dissent, to tell me off. That’s the best.


  12. Sandy says:

    Love love love!!!!


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