“… if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” — Junot Diaz
Before last year, I could talk. I made all sorts of sounds that were words and these words went together and produced sentences and meaning. The meanings worked and allowed me to communicate, or so I thought. I made a lot of sounds. A lot of words.
Though I could talk, for most of my life I was not able to speak my mind.
There is this knowledge that came to me last year that I am Autistic. And this meant that for the first time, I was able to understand who I am, and care about myself.
Now I speak for myself.
The reason I can now truly communicate isn’t just that I found out I’m neurodivergent and can now understand a lot better who I am in relation to the world. That’s only a small part of it.
There are two more fantastic, beautiful reasons I can now speak my mind: the first is reading other Autistics expressing themselves, their joys, their fears, their fights to have our rights respected.
Autistics speaking all over the Internets, saying I am, we are, we matter, we rock! Solidarity, exploring knowledge, beauty in sharing and empathy. This is what makes me not a monster – being able to relate with others, a reflection of myself, in multiple variations and nuances.
The second reason I can now speak my mind is being with Autistic friends. Sharing their presence, our mutual acceptance, all of us discovering our values and our caring, our shared experiences and our discoveries. Just being together, and understanding what human relating is really about. I see you.
So yes, Autistics speaking, through talk, presence, typed words, gestures, glances, Autistics speaking to each other, with each other and to the world, being able to truly be who we are, becoming, valuing and protecting each other, and the young ones. To me, this is our common treasure, and it should be protected with all our fierceness and love.