This Autistics Speaking Day, I am going to speak truth that certain folks with power in the larger Autistic community would rather I kept to myself. An access fail went down at Autreat 2013. The official incident report is a) not an incident report and b) utterly devoid of "having consulted with the person it actually happened to". Now it's my turn to report on the incident, and the ugly underbelly that was revealed in the immediate and distant aftermath.Or, what could have been.
This is a fractally fucked up thing. The initial incident was a fuckup: Something the planning committee should have noticed was going to cause a problem for Autistic people at an Autistic-safe event was not noticed. Then an allistic member of said planning committee was using said access violation, creating multiple kinds of access barriers (sensory and seizure). And then said allistic planning committee member, instead of fixing it immediately, instead started being even more terrible.
Then the handling was a fuck up: She then told a very doctored story of events to the Autistic planning committee members. Who were then 17 kinds of terrible to me. Who, in another level of fuckup, decided on a response of let's see how many more kinds of terrible we, as a community, can find!
Benoit Mandelbrot is either horrified or impressed.
Could this have been handled better? Um, obviously. Even if the TV was still there, no where was it written that Cara Wilson had to be so terrible. As awful as many Planning Committee members have been to me, I doubt that "argue with someone about their access need. Declare that Autistics can't care about other people" is part of the official manual.
Had Cara still been shitty, could it have still been handled better? Obviously. There was no need to make the entire debriefing about Cara and downplay that actual harm had been done and catastrophic harm could have been done. There was no need to chastise people reacting in the moment for not being allistic enough (also I am still not sure why fighting with someone about their access need is acceptable? And why Autistic people are being held to a higher standard than an allistic person in this instance?). And there was no need for us to wait for hours for this farce to happen.
The next day? Ok so there were plenty of people who knew I was not fine. There were also plenty of people who knew that those people might know what was up. Asking would not have been hard. Asking me what happened? Also would not have been hard, either Wednesday night or Thursday morning. It would have given the illusion of giving a shit.
And, you know? Jim could have come to my room while there was still processing time. Pushing up against the moment of means there isn't. Jim also could have not ejected Shaun. That really is rather egregious. Or it could have been made clear that not giving the presentation was acceptable. Or if it wasn't? Say it straight out.
And then instead of reacting with hateyness when I had processed, there is a whole lot junctures there where things could have been turned around. The censoring? Was pretty blatant. I certainly didn't agree to that gaslighty incident report, nor was I asked to write my own-indeed, that is what this is now. Exept I'm not pretending this is professional. This is me telling a true story about what happened.
And the spiral into the cesspool the list was last I looked? Completely shameful. It should have been prevented. That it wasn't is a complete indictment of all the people who have that power and elected to run in this direction.
There was lots of time for relationship repair. Loads of time. Contrary to popular belief (Marcie...), I am not particularly mean. I take no shit. There's a difference. I am capable of forgiveness. I forgave AutCom, for fuck's sake, because they sincerely apologized and made steps towards making things right. Now, unlike Autreat, they didn't build me into their big bad monster, to my knowledge, but forgiveness is a thing I do when people are actually sorry and not going to do it again.
There was loads of time for relationship repair. I waited months to write this out because of that. However, it is clear that this is not what Jim wants, or apparently anyone else either. There was time for that. It could have been better. Things could have been barely a thing at all.
Instead they may as well have just gotten the strobe light.