Autism is another parallel development path that the world is unfamiliar with. Currently, there is a strong emphasis on the problems and challenges faced by autistics but little about alternative models and solutions that can bring out the full potential of autistics. Political correctness about disability has also made it difficult to discuss and address serious issues that autistics and their loved ones experience.
Autism organisations tend to be dominated by caregivers who use non-autistic strategies and measures of success to support autistics, while autistic-led organisations are focused on advocacy instead of providing solutions. These neither address the fact that many such autistics are stuck in dysfunctional relationships with their families and that the employment opportunities are generally not meaningful, future-proof or have career advancement options.
The mentality of “beggars are not choosers” and seeing such assistance as acts of charity stops change-makers from seeing how to provide autistics with meaningful and effective support that addresses the autistics’ true needs and concerns. As a result, only the superficial issues (e.g. employment rates) are addressed while deeper issues (e.g. satisfaction with personal relationships) are neglected.
Relying solely on advocacy work, piecemeal government assistance and social enterprises controlled by non-autistic people can only do so much. To break out of this vicious cycle, it is necessary to create a self-sustaining community of like-minded autistic peers to provide low-cost housing, low-stress freelance employment, peer-supportive education and equal collaboration so that autistics can be free to re-imagine and create their future as fully contributing members of society.
Whirlpool of Ableism
- Disabled people are seen as useless or helpless
- No accommodation/acceptance of disabled people
- Standards are set by non-disabled people
- Disabled people must conform to non-disabled social norms set by the majority
- Disabled people are incapable; must rely on external help to survive
- Disabled people become super resilient or psychologically damaged
Seduction of Disableism (opposite of ableism)
- Disabled people are treated as Super VIPs
- Disabled people take privileges for granted
- Standards are set by disabled needs
- Mainstream society to conform to disabled social norms
- Disabled people are still seen as incapable and reliant on external help to survive
- Disabled people become brittle and egoistic
- This form of reverse-discrimination is just as damaging as ableism in the long-term
Existing Employment Models
- Dependency on non-autistic Job Coaches & Service Providers
- Find Technical/Menial Work with no/little career advancement
- Jobs reducible into algorithms that are susceptible to automation
- Possible to earn Profits only with Exploitative Wages
- Training that does not address the root issues with autism; on managing behaviour & providing skills training
- Tries to mould autistics into NeuroTypical norms and compares with non-autistic benchmarks
- Treats autistics as incapable of learning social skills; no effort to foster teamwork
- No effort to empower autistics to take charge of personal life and seek better work opportunities
In an era where robots are rapidly becoming better than autistics in terms of social skills and executive functioning, we need a different alternative than training autistics to follow repetitive instructions for low-paying, dead-end jobs.
Let us stop defining ourselves with disability and follow the traditional perspectives regarding inclusion. Let us choose something beyond the dilemma of being fully authentic to oneself or fully conforming to mainstream society’s expectations. Let us focus on how to improve ourselves rather than how to advocate for ourselves. Let us focus on creating joy and solutions rather than describing suffering and problems.
This Masterplan is an invitation to the autism community to go beyond disability and ability, beyond shame and pride, beyond unconditional conformity and unconditional acceptance. Only when we break out of this mental box of disability can we see new possibilities.