This is a guest blog from occasional contributer Gen Eric. I lend my blog sometimes as a platform for other Autistics to say things that need to be said and heard. I appreciate Gen Eric writing on such a triggering topic, so that I do not have to.
TW for abuse, ableism, murder, behaviorism
A Colorado-based Mexican Restaurant is asking it's customers to help “smother autism.” No, you did not fucking read that wrong. “Illegal Pete's” promises to donate a dollar for every “smothered burrito”(apparently this is a Colorado thing) purchased this April to the Joshua School, an ABA facility. We will leave aside for this post the racism of the name, and get down to celebrating the cruelest month in style.
The school's website www.joshuaschool.org reveals a pretty standard-issue ABA program. That in and of itself is harder to criticize without more knowledge: partially because the terms they use are almost scarily vague; and partially because ABA is the Borg of autism “treatments,” assimilating anything that can be called teaching or therapy under its own heading. Like all ABA practitioners they have their cultlike zeal for terms like “evidence based” and “clinically proven,” but if you want a proper thorough takedown of ABA, read The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists by Michelle Dawson. It does seem like their near-exclusive focus on normalization at Joshua School is depriving their students of any kind of actual education (you know, that thing schools are supposed to provide), and their site also talks about “children age 6-21,” making it clear that they see grown godfuckingdamned adults as children by virtue of their disability.
I don't know how many of you attended vigils for Autistic and otherwise-disabled people murdered by parents and caregivers, but it's a lot. And it seems like one of the most jolly-fucking-common ways to do it is smothering. Autistics are smothered all the time: at home; in institutions; in schools. Hell, I came dangerously close to being one of them, and if I hadn't been able to make out the words “I can't fucking breathe you asshole,” I might not be here today (a simple “I can't breathe” was ignored). In case you were wondering, our killers typically get off with, at most, a slap on the wrist. The language of combat/war/attacking/killing/smothering autism absotively posilutely emboldens the next would-be murderer.
When confronted about this, Illegal Pete's will go on and on about their “good intentions.” Yeah, not fucking good enough, road to hell and all that lovely shit. Raising money, even if this was a good cause (which it does not seem to be), would still not justify a title that belittles actual abuse and murder of our people. And raising the all-holy “awareness” is not only unproductive but counterproductive for our actual interests. In case you were living on another planet for the past few decades, awareness kills, and every time you raise awareness of how horrible our neurology is, and how we are evil changelings that stole someone's real child, you make the world that much more dangerous for us. And if that wasn't your intent, and you really weren't aware that “smothering autism” is one of the most problematic things you could ever say (even though The Google is totes a thing), the only appropriate response when confronted about it is “oh shit, we didn't know, let's fix it.”
Autistics get smothered on a regular basis, and making an event title that belittles it in that way (and don't even mention your intentions; your explanation is heard and rejected) is unfuckingacceptable.