Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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How to Be a Better Ally

When you're trying to a support a group of people that you don't directly belong to, and some organization that purports to support that group is quite unpopular with the people who actually have that trait, then it's helpful to believe them and cut your ties to that organization. If you care why the organization is aggravating the people it claims to help, by all means do some research to find out why. But trust your trait-having friends to know when someone is trying to screw them.

In this case, it's about April as Autism Awareness Month, and the organization Autism Speaks -- which despite its name is not by autistic people but by neurotypical people who work with or are related to people on the spectrum. Really not the same thing at all. Actual neurovariant people have all kinds of beef with AS and a little digging will turn up their explanations of why. Don't pester them about it, lots of them are tired of repeating that conversation.

Want to be a better ally for people with all kinds of different wetware? Try this ...

* Here are some resources. I started with the best clinical descriptions I could find, but according to my neurovariant fans, those tend to suck. So I collected as many as I could find that are from people on the spectrum talking about their own experiences. Worlds of difference. Believe the trait-having people over the ones studying them from outside.

* Read and write about characters on the spectrum. Ask for them during prompt calls this month -- lots of people get on [community profile] crowdfunding and host events where you can request stories, poems, etc. Here's my science fiction series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space. Some of those poems were inspired by fans who are on the spectrum or know someone who is, sharing some of their experiences. Another option is the TV show Arthur, which introduced a character with Asperger's syndrome. Does anyone else have entertainment examples to add that aren't already on my list?

* Respect the fact that other cultures and worldviews are just as valid as your own. Instead of demanding that other people always adapt to your wishes, see what you can do to accommodate theirs. Ideally, friends compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. Here are some tips on how to be friends with an autistic person.

* Keep some fidgets and sensory toys available.  For adults they are marketed as office toys.  Knitting, crochet, sewing, and other crafts offer socially acceptable ways to stim, or moving meditation as some people like to call it.  Remember, it used to be the norm that everyone had lapwork to do while talking.  Having something safe to twiddle with helps most people relax.
Tags: activism, holiday, how to, networking

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