Last week H and I made our way into the big city to attend an ASAN meeting with the newly founded ASAN Vancouver Chapter. (ASAN = Autistic Self Advocacy Network)
H was pretty quiet during the meeting, and was creating things on his iPad, but he was definitely listening.
He was at the table… and my intent is to support him in gaining a sense of community and a way to be involved in activism and disabilities rights should he so choose.
I cannot say if he will wish to continue with this as he transitions to adulthood – though he is my son and has a heart for social justice – so I suspect he might.
The point is though – that I see it as my role and responsibility to support him in connecting to other Autistic people as well as people within broader disabilities communities. I want him to know that his voice matters – that he has a place at the table – and he can sit – or not – but the possibility will be there for him.
His activism right now is about empowerment and pride – and supporting him in this is a way of mitigating the negative stigma of organizations such as Autism Speaks.
So… today we once again headed into the big city, this time to participate in ASAN Vancouver’s protest of the Autism Speaks Walk.
On the drive in we discussed many things, as is always the case on our drives. Today, among other things, we talked of stigma, and eugenics, and how sad it is for families to hear the message that their Autistic child is a tragedy… and be sucked into believing it…
H gets this stuff… and I can tell you that I feel pride in his indignance!
And he is proud to be playing a role in combating the negative messages!
So the protest was small, but it was almost entirely well received. Our rough estimate was that there were about 50 conversations today that were game changers, and an enormous amount of ASAN and #BoycottAutismSpeaks flyers were shared with people as well.
H said: “If they knew what Autism Speaks is doing – they wouldn’t be walking – but protesting with us!”
And maybe as a result of today’s efforts, some of those walkers will be along side us next year…
Because this is how change happens… and H and I agree that today was made of win!!
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 (2014)