I would really appreciate it if people would listen to me carefully before they start treating me like a child. I am a capable and interesting person, with enough agency, preparation, and knowledge to contribute a lot to my relationship with them.
Please do not get mad at me when I ask for clarification. I am not challenging you, I want to understand what you are trying to convey and because I have not learned to read minds (YET!).
If we say we need a piece of technology, enable that. If a meeting knows I need to use a chat facility for video, enable support for that so that I join in equally.
If I don’t have the right information, I risk doing the task incorrectly and having to redo something in a different way and/or having someone get angry with me, angrier than when I was just asking questions.
If I tell you I need something, listen. I might not have the energy to communicate your way, can we please communicate my way for a little bit?
Giving me space to talk and think will make my life easier as an Autistic person, because it means I will be able to be a part of a conversation with someone or with a group of people.
I can only speak for myself but I am aware many autistic people will sadly have the experience of being spoken over by others. The ‘others’ in this scenario may not even be aware they are doing it, but it doesn’t make it less hurtful.
Those who would deny people access to their most effective method of communication because of concerns about the potential for false accusations should, as Rua Williams recently wrote, “ask [themselves] why a false accusation is more harmful than the ability to accuse.”
Jordyn Zimmerman’s story, as told in the new documentary This Is Not About Me, is an example of how non-speaking autistic people can blossom when communication becomes possible.
Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: Orange and purple flowers among green leaves.] Cal Montgomery montgomerycal.wordpress.com twitter.com/Cal__Montgomery For Mel Baggs and Phil Smith, who knew, and know, communion with the wild places better than I can imagine. Do you remember how you learned to communicate? If you communicate pretty typically, odds are it wasn’t perfect, but it included something like: you reached out socially, and people reached back. You looked at them; they gazed adoringly back at you. You smiled; they smiled back and waved. “Hi, Baby! Hi! Oh, what a beautiful face!” You laughed; they reveled in your chortles and giggles and were silly in the hope that you would laugh again. You cried; they held you and comforted you and tried to figure out what was making you miserable. You called out at night; they pulled themselves out of exhausted slumber, scooped you up, and blearily cuddled…