About The Autism Society of America on #DDoM2016

By Amy Sequenzia

TW: Graphic description of Filicide

About the Autism Society of America

First, I want to say that this post refers to the National Organization. I don’t know all the chapters but I know that while some are terrible, others are great to their communities, and some are run by Autistics.

I should be trying to sleep. Today was Disability Day of Mourning, the day we remember disabled people murdered by their parents or caregivers. We do this because the media likes to find “excuses” for the murderers, portraying the victims as burdens on “exhausted parents” who “of course” had good reason to murder their children.

We do this because the idea that disabled people are “non-persons” is not really controversial in many circles.

So, by the end of the day I was exhausted, drained. Then I received an email from the Autism Society of America (ASA). After some Facebook exchanges I needed a break. I had a seizure, spent some time reading some fun conversation about other things, recovered a little but couldn’t sleep, so I decided to write.

It is not uncommon for me to be exhausted by the end of a day when I type a lot. Today, though, what drained me was the reason for all the typing. First, typing about disabled people who were murdered, about how they were murdered simply for being disabled, and how their lives were nearly forgotten. Then, the ASA email.

Remember, today is Disability Day of Mourning. We use a hashtag on social media. Every respectable – or claiming to be respectful – disability advocacy organization knows about it. ASA decided that today was a good day to announce the keynote speakers of their National Conference.

Why are those two things related? Because the keynote speakers are the authors of a book – “In a Different Key” – which is generating a lot of discussion in “autism circles”. In the book, the authors make very clear that people should “understand” parents who murder their Autistic children. Apparently because murdering us is just a “oops, I murdered my child but they were Autistic, so I have an explanation”.

Before I continue, I want to talk about London McCabe, the little Autistic boy who died after his mother threw him off a bridge. I want to talk about him because, in a rare case of justice being served, the murderer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. I also read, today, about how he died. I feel empty, yet heavy with pain, when I imagine him falling, scared, breaking several bones, then drowning in pain, confused and alone, in freezing waters. His murderer, the person who called herself a mother, would find “understanding” from the keynote

speakers headlining the ASA conference. London would probably be dismissed as “not a real person”.

Back to the keynote speakers and their book. They also praise Lovaas, the father of ABA, something many Autistics (including me) call torture – Lovaas is also the one who first referred to us as non-persons.

The same speakers reject the neurodiversity movement as a valid fight for our human rights. They don’t think I, a non-speaking Autistic who needs many supports, can be part of the neurodiversity movement. I suspect they believe people who look like me cannot think either. They mock some of us, calling us “robots”.

ASA invited the authors of a book that supports pathologizing autism, as if we “suffer” from a devastating disease, a book that dismisses our efforts to be heard, a book that values the idea that we need to be changed to be seen a real people.

When I asked why, the answer was “We wanted people attending the conference to hear both [the closing keynote is the author of another book with a very different view of autism] and decide for themselves on their assessment of each keynote . We know there are people who support Steve and others who support Karen and John. We want people to hear both. We also know there are people on the spectrum who have publicly supported Zucker and Donvan including our volunteers who are autistic.”

As I responded, I don’t know who are the Autistics who agree that murdering us is defensible, and that such view should be in a book. I am also disturbed that ASA believes it is ok to let people who propagate such view be the headline of a conference as big as this one.

ASA calls themselves allies of the Autistic community. Why are they inviting people who don’t value us so they can have an audience to propagate a such hateful message?

The answer is that ASA is an ally to parents, including the martyr parents, the warrior parents, the ones who want attention, pity and “understanding”. Parents who don’t accept their children and who need validation for their complaints. It is sad that, as I said in the first paragraph, some chapters have Autistic leaders doing great community work, and are now lost in this mess because of the name they carry.

ASA National Organization wants a lot of people attending their conference and they don’t care that the “stars” are people who defend murderers of disabled, some of whom were Autistic, people.

ASA is celebrating people who “understand” and excuse people who murder us –

on the day we mourn our brothers and sisters who died because they were seen as non-people, just like ASA’s Conference headliners see us.

That’s why I was exhausted and drained today.

Remembering the ones who should not have died, while an organization that is supposed to stand with us invites me to celebrate people who can “understand” people who murdered my brothers and sisters.

Support organizations by & for Autistic people!Boycott Autism Speaks suggests-Autism Women's NetworkTone it Down TaupeEd Wil (2)

Image: Teal textured background with white text that reads: “ASA calls themselves allies of the Autistic community. Why are they inviting people who don’t value us so they can have an audience to propagate such a hateful message?” -Amy Sequenzia About The Autism Society of America on #DDoM2016


About Lei

PACLA is an Autistic friendly space dedicated to guiding parents toward respectful supports and accommodations for their Autistic children through the concepts of gentle parenting and a belief in the value of neurodiversity.

Posted on March 2, 2016, in Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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