So often we ignore and devalue the words of Autistics. Too many professionals and researchers stand up and pontificate about their pet autism theories, yet refuse to even consider adjusting those theories when autistic people reply that they don't match up with their actual experiences of being autistic at all. Such professionals respond that the autistic person simply doesn't understand the theory and dismisses their claims. This is one kind of devaluing.
Another type of devaluing comes when an Autistic speaks up and makes their thoughts known, yet those who disagree with them systematically devalue their words, not on the grounds of their argument, but on the grounds of their autism. Common examples of this are when an Autistic person says something disagreeing with, for instance, the parent of a child on the spectrum, and the parent replies "Well, your autism isn't like my child's autism." Translation: I'm not going to listen to what you say.
Because here's the secret - over and over in these encounters, the common thread that decides whether or not an Autistic is deemed autistic enough to weigh in on an issue is not whether or not they are deemed similar to the child in question, but whether or not they agree with the other person.
If they agree, the reaction looks something like this: "Look, this autistic person agrees with what I'm saying, thank you so much, autistic person, for your wise insight!"
If they disagree, though, the reaction is much different. "You can write/speak/communicate, so your autism isn't like that of the person I'm talking about." In this 'logic' of course, the writer ignores the fact that they themselves aren't at all autistic, so by their own apparent logic their own words would have no weight whatsoever.
In this great article posted on Diary of a Mom, Barb Rentenbach, an Autistic woman who types to communicate, confronts both of these ignoring tactics. In her post she takes on the false idea of some professionals that she and other Autistics lack empathy (which Autistics have repeatedly protested, yet a topic on which professionals have repeatedly ignored them), and also shows an example of an "autism shut-down", by which I mean someone trying to devalue her opinion about autism and the role it's played in her life. She rises above both admirably and does not seek to shut down conversation with either party, but, rather, teach us all something. She has some very powerful, very valuable thoughts to share. I highly suggest reading them.
In the meanwhile, the point of me writing all this was to say:
Autistics communicate. It's time to listen.*
By the way, for any of you wondering, Caley does sign off on all these posts that I write. For this particular post, given that she's been subjected herself to both kinds of shut downs, she had a particularly strong reaction that put a smile on my face, and I though I'd share it. In her words: "Heck yes. Preach, sister, preach!"
*Yes, that riff off of Autism Speaks' extraordinarily ironic (considering they're the organization that least listens to the words of Autistics) motto was intentional satire.