Last week, I wrote an article that appeared in the online magazine spiked arguing that Australian pop singer Sia is free to cast whomever she wants in Music, her film about an autistic protagonist. This controversy erupted almost two weeks ago when Sia released a trailer for the movie. The #ActuallyAutistic crew on Twitter had a lot of complaints…
Mission: Leave my biology classroom, walk across one hall and three flights of stairs to the cafeteria, grab a plate of food, refill my coffee cup, then climb two flights of stairs and walk a quarter of the way across the building to an empty classroom, where I would be able to eat with one hand and copy French verb conjugations with the other.
Time allotted: Five minutes.
As a kid, I loved the movie Peter Pan. Wendy was my favorite, of course, with the pastel blue nightgown and butter-yellow curls, and the eerie clock ticking in the crocodile’s stomach and Tiger Lily tied to a chair and left to drown…it’s a little dark, now that I think about it. But when I was eight I didn’t care, and I was thoroughly convinced that if I flapped my wings hard enough, I would fly. Actually, I thought that if I drank soda, I would fly, because my parents never let me have soda. The only possible explanation for this was that they didn’t want me to know how to fly. A diabolical scheme, indeed.
Scrolling through the posts on this site that I wrote back in April and May, I can’t help but be a little disappointed in myself. I put a lot of energy into arguing about what words people should and shouldn’t use to describe autism, or me. Those posts now strike me as well-intentioned, but still sanctimonious and fundamentally misguided. Here’s why.
I keep walking by this sign in my neighborhood that someone has hung in their window. It says, “What kind of activism are YOU doing?” Just like that, with the “you” in all caps. And each time I walk by it, I have a slightly different answer.
Once upon a time, there was a girl with autism who lived in a building with houseness in an area with citydom. The girl and her autism lived with her person with motherness and person with brotherness, plus two animals with ferretness. Often, the girl with autism called the person with motherness “Mother,” but we will not do that, because we know that a person with motherness is far more than just her motherness, and she must not let her motherness define her.
They laugh at you when you don’t know how to do something. They laugh at you when you try to learn. You quite literally cannot win.