My first experience with neurodiversity was something built gradually from the ground up. It built itself around social connections first, and someone driving me to a public lecture on autism and neurodiversity. Gradually reaching out and pulling together a community. It was the beginnings of what would be the disability student group on campus and my ASAN chapter.
It was a revelation, to say the least. I learned about an entire culture. I myself fell into it hard and fast but the community took a while to build locally.
I am proud of what everyone involved in all that has accomplished.
The Internet has always been my second home. I started an “autism blog” in 2013. I had been on Tumblr before, but not knowing about neurodiversity and mostly reblogging things like cats.
Autistics have a lot of pain to work through, which I have seen flashing up all around me. We have a lot of trauma and ours is the history of a group maltreated. Having pain to work through is fine.
We do have a community, diverse among its interests and identities. We have more people discovering how their brains work every day. It is important to cultivate a disability identity in people carefully and with kindness. Autistics have a lot of pain to work through.
Autism is a neurotype, not a political belief system or other set of beliefs. We share a neurotype. We are diverse. We have pain. We have different opinions. I've seen us come together on a lot of issues and part on others, recent though my addition to the neurodiversity movement is.
The reason I joined neurodiversity was because someone found me and realized that I could contribute something. They helped me learn, slowly, to create an identity out of disability. I read everything I could get my hands on. I came into neurodiversity when the community was speaking out even louder than ever against groups like Autism Speaks. I embraced it.
I was fortunate. I managed to pick up what words to use and had some talent with writing that lent itself well to blogging. I had someone patient to teach me. I joined neurodiversity because someone helped bring me into it. I have hopes for this community. In some areas, I fear for it. The splits seem wide in many areas.
There are many types of advocacy and activism.
For instance: resistance can be self-advocacy. Self-advocacy can be resistance.
If you write just one blog post, you have contributed. If you're not on the front lines and doing spitfire activism, and are quieter in the background, you have contributed.
Some people would argue that “quiet activists” do no good, but I disagree.
We have room for all kinds of activists and advocates in this community. Some are newer, and perhaps we could learn to handle each other more gently.