I don't like the term "self advocate" as it's used right now. The "self" should be a given, it should be understood. I should be a disability rights advocate, an autism advocate, an accessibility advocate, a neurodivergence advocate. Stuff like that.
I'm not, though, in commonly used language. In commonly used language, those terms-especially autism advocate-are about parents and professionals. Most of these people are not autistic. It's fair to say the majority of them have no disability whatsoever. So why the hell is it my description that gets a qualifying appendage? Why am I not the default in the work I do?
That's really what it comes down to, isn't it? Allistic, enabled people are considered the default for anything and everything, so when someone like me-autistic, disabled-does something on my own behalf like every other adult in the world it's seen as so damn special and cutesy that they decide they need another word for it. A word, I may add, that implies that what I have to say is not as important as what "real" advocates have to say. I'm just talking about myself, you see. They're doing the really real work, for we need the great allistic savior! We're cast as sidekicks in our own movement.
That, obviously, is wrong.
It is my movement. The accurate term for people like me (and a lot of people whose work I admire, and who I can't list here without it running 2 pages and me forgetting someone and feeling like an asshat) shouldn't be self advocate. We should be called advocates. Those people who are co-opting my movement? You know, the ones calling themselves advocates while telling us that what we say is less than what we say for a whole number of reasons? They can be allies, if they wish to work with us. Or they can be parent-advocates.
But the term advocate in this context should belong to us. We shouldn't be peripheral to the movement. It is ours. Give it back to us.