Thinking out of the box
Joseph Redford is a Committee Member here at Autistic UK
The situation for many autistic people in the U.K. today is dire. We have incredibly high rates of unemployment, isolation, exclusion, bullying, depression and anxiety. Social attitudes towards autistic people are changing at a glacial pace, whilst myths and misconceptions spread like wildfire. None of these problems have easy, or even obvious solutions, which is why they need to be approached from as many different angles as possible.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a tendency for autistic people to devote more energy into policing their own side rather than finding solutions to the predicament of the autistic community. The biggest divide seems to be between so-called moderates who think working with the current authorities is the best way forward, and “activists” who think attacking the institutions and lobbying them is the best way forward. “Moderates” attack “activists” for being too aggressive, and “activists” attack “moderates” for toadying. Both sides
police each other’s language, attack each other for not being ideologically pure enough, and attack other autistic people who say things that fall outside of their paradigm.
I think there is enough space in the autistic community for both groups to co- exist, and both groups can make change in their own ways. The people who are the real problem are the ones that try to impose ideological uniformity on the entire autistic community, and attack and censure people who deviate from it, and use all their energy to try and maintain an increasingly shaky status quo.
So my message to you, dear reader, is if you have an idea to help autistic people, speak up and put it forward. If you think it’s silly, unworkable or offensive, put it forward anyway, because it could turn out to be a way forward after all. Put forward your idea, and Autistic UK will work with you to make it a reality.