In case you haven’t heard yet, an organization has been promoting “Communication Shutdown” to raise Autism Awareness. They have been encouraging people to not use social networking accounts today. Supposedly, this is somehow supposed to help NTs understand our difficulties with communication and the resulting feelings of isolation.
What they are missing, though, is how much social networking sites have allowed us to connect. Some of us- like myself- do speak verbally, but have difficulties with initiation or understanding social ques, or might even on occation just not be able to get words out verbally. Some of us only speak verbally sporadically. And some of us don’t speak verbally at all.
But Autistics of all different types have benefited from social media platforms. Some of us were able to find communities that were inaccessible before. Some of us have found people who are willing to accept us as who we are, unorthodox communication needs and all. And for some of us, we’ve established our own communities and even developed our own culture. There are even those who have been able to maintain relationships- romantic or otherwise- in ways that would have been impossible before. All of these things are much much more difficult for us to do out in the “real world”.
And often, the real world doesn’t make space for our needs, or for our communication. Our communication might be labeled as overly aggressive, as “funny”, or even identified as problem behaviors and not recognized as communication at all. Online this isn’t as true- so how is this event supposed to help raise awareness for how our lives are?
Some people- including the wonderful Corina Becker- Have decided to have “Autistics Speaking Day” instead. We are sharing our stories, our communities, our thoughts, our art with the world. And you know, maybe we will actually be heard this time, since those who claim to speak for us are being silent.
I’ll be posting some poems of mine that are about my experiences as an Autistic person on this blog today, and linking once an hour over on twitter to them and to some of my friends and their works. I hope you join us!
Here are some other posts on this topic:
Kim Wobbles: In Which I Get Pissed Off: Not shutting down.
Facebook Event: Autistics Speaking Day