Updated the headline after some in-depth conversations about race, ethnicity and identity.
Autistics are an ethnic minority. This term seems to be more specific to intent and better description than the word race.
It has come to my attention that the Autistics have a sub-group of folks who believe in elitism. Hence, why they wanted to be recognized as a race. At least that is my understanding.
I really don’t understand the concept of Autistic elitism. We’re facing so much need as a community and people – housing, poverty, abuse, lack of care, stability and no workplace supports . We have community issues that need addressed.
That is the goal here. It starts with getting peers at the table and the opportunity to be heard. And keeping community fundraiser dollars local to support our people now.
This is about hope for better quality of lives, acceptance and let folks know (because outside of the Autistic world they really seem to be surprised) that we are a people not just a diagnosis.
Peer voice is starting to be recognized in CA legislators offices as needed and important. They want Autistics at the table. It’s my hope you all want to be there too.
That’s a goal of the civil rights movement?
So, the choice is to continue to bash my success as getting us recognized as a people — or help the effort to get Autistics into positions of leadership and decision making at the Capitol.
We are a minority and have a community voice. It needs to be included.
So, that’s what I’m going to continue to work on.
Help is always appreciated, if anyone is so inclined.
I’m the whitest minority I ever met.
Yesterday, at the Capitol in Sacramento, in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Month, I spoke to legislators as an Autistic born into white culture.
I spoke as an Autistic person about my peers, my people, our community and Autistic culture; and communicated about needs of our no-served/underserved community, lack of resources for all Autistics and the utter devastation that our kids are facing upon adulthood.
Also, about how the cure culture robbed our community of the ability to be recognized as more than pathology and stigmatized stereotype — how the money raised by non-profits (Autism Speaks, yes you) to find the impossible cure was siphoned out of our communities ($220 million at least) and left us high-and-dry.
Today, the very kids who wore blue in the 2000s on fundraiser walks, have been abandoned, stigmatized, demonized, marginalized and demoralized — and if female, existence denied.
Often we’re homeless, incarcerated, suffering severe poverty, and victims of gaslighting, physical, emotional and financial abuse. Death-by-suicide or murder is far too common.
(When we’re killed by caregivers, they get the sympathy and lesser sentences because it’s so difficult with Autistics.)
Adulthood has no Autistic support. There’s no help for us now. The Autism awareness gig was a sham. A call for Autism Acceptance and support by the #ActuallyAutistic went ignored, belittled and even threatened with prosecution.
In response the Autistic Civil Rights Movement was launched.
(We don’t light it up blue, we are #REDinstead)
That movement has expanded to include neurodiverse brains of all types, and is the driving force behind Neurodiversity Civil Rights Movement. #nothingaboutuswithoutus
So how does all of that make me the whitest minority I’ve ever met? When I applied to be considered to participate in the Minority Mental Health Month advocacy talks, I wrote my race as Autistic.
That’s right, my race and minority status is Autistic. Like the Deaf, Blind and left-handed, we think different and that’s our identity, not the color of our skin. Our differences are invisible.
Social skills are patterns to be learned, and bounced back appropriately (mimicked), so even the cultures we’re born into are a learned skill as well. Your language is our second language, always. My first language is not one I can explain completely, but it is visual and multi-dimensional and I have to translate that into English when I communicate.
Autistics have a strong culture. (Oh goodness, what a relief to be with others like me and not worry about integration skills, social skills and just be myself, all quirks, tics, stims included.) Autistics have a history of incredible achievements that are vastly understated, or entirely ignored, in typical history books.
Autistics are a people that need to be heard. It’s long past time for others to sit-down, shut-the-hell-up and let us talk. I’ve claimed my inheritance and started marking my race/culture/identity box as Autistic.
Guess what? When you speak about Autistics, those words aren’t going into some great expanse of space to people unknown. Dude, we’re right here. We can hear you. Hello?
I am now proudly Autistic first, and the rest follows. It was a very hard journey to self-acceptance. Now I’m campaigning telling the world, we are a people and deserve a far better quality of life. NAMI California has given me the opportunity to do so as an Autistic minority.
When I checked that box on the application, NAMI California took the time to read and really took the time to listen as well. Then they recognized and honored our minority status.
I spoke as an Autistic minority to folks who can help, and they listened. Really listened.
I was able to walk right into the Capitol, talk to the people in power about intersectional needs of our community — like how often Autistics are turned away from psychiatric wards in times of crisis because staff there isn’t qualified to help us. We’re pushed to ERs and back out again. In the end, often, we’re left with no help at all.
Each legislator (and representative) took the time to listen, really listen. Autistic community challenges were discussed, and the importance of lived-experience and peer voice in areas leadership acknowledged and supported. Greatly supported.
Already in areas of health and community, peer voice is being sought for inclusion. We’re wanted at the table with the big wig providers, health industry professionals and others of great importance to collaborate on solutions.
I’m in such awe and feel incredible honor at being included as an Autistic activist in NAMI California’s advocacy effort. In every meeting, our first ask was for the continuing support to honor Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. I asked for the continuation as an Autistic minority.
Mental illness is an equal opportunist of the purest form. It doesn’t discriminate on race, culture, social class, or religion. It doesn’t care what side of the tracks you grew up on. However every culture is different in their response to mental illness. The needs for breaking stigma, education and advocacy efforts are specific to each community.
I’m still in such awe. Earlier this year investigative reporter, Lila Luciano, spotlighted the challenges and the civil rights movement. Now it’s legislators in Sacramento taking note.
Folks, we’re being recognized, and invitations to leadership and collaboration are coming. For now, #stayloudandproud. Be very proud.
For sure stay #badassandproud too.
It’s human to think different.
Eve Hinson | July 2017
Evolution of Eve | Rediscovering life then and exploring the now
Memory loss, scattered focus, inability to track time, and an ill-known stigmatized neurological disorder, plus PTSD symptoms, have erased or complicated recall of Eve’s first 37 years of life.
Now in her mid-40s, Eve is Autistic AF and left with a brain that doesn’t include filters (she says fuck. a lot), likes to glitch and, after the memory wipe, created a new personhood. Eve is different to those who’ve known her from childhood. She is unknown even to herself and seeking to learn about her life from back then, and embracing life now.
This series focuses on self-discovery after the onset of severe mental illness, memory loss and permanent disability. It’s a different life and a worthy life.
Contact Eve | firstname.lastname@example.org