Lived experience with Ableism

Lived experience with Ableism

Lived experience with Ableism

Non speakers are such a major target group for everything related to ableism that it is hard to know where to even begin. Right at the top of the list there is speech itself. For all the breadth and depth of the words we type, sometimes with excruciating effort, we will always be judged by those simple words we are not able to speak. The spectrum of ableists is vast – in this case it goes from those that outright reject our way of communication to those with good intentions that still cannot be patient to wait for us to finish a typed response to a question they asked to loved ones that otherwise accepting but secretly wish you can talk.

The next thing that springs to mind is listening. I love my stims but my feeling is that to those that are talking to me it can look like i am not paying attention. What is essential to keep us in the conversation is often held onto as proof that we are not listening. That is ableism at its core, the expectation that listening has to be a certain way. And that any form of listening that is not looking in the eye and nodding your head, leave alone not even being in the room, is not listening at all.

Finally, the world of medicine deserves multiple pages here but i will summarize briefly here. Far too many of our medical and mental health needs are buried under the name of autism. In that sense autism is the biggest umbrella of ableism – so much of what we can or cannot do is merely interpreted through this label next to our name and not by our individual abilities. It is the fight of our lifetimes.

Swarit Gopalan

About the Author

I am an 11-yr old autistic, nonspeaker that uses letterboard to spell/keyboard to type to communicate.I live with my family in Florida and go to Invictus Academy for school. 
I find a lot of solace in expressing myself through poetry. Music and nature also help me stay in the present, there is nothing better for me than to have my movement create a symphony with nature and to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Living in harmony with nature is my life’s mission.
Right from the time of diagnosis, we are only told about all things we cannot or will not be able to do. Along with the check that is written to the doctor for the diagnosis, it often feels like our agency is written off too, especially without a reliable communication mechanism.  
Time to change the paradigm with more non speaker voices. It has always been a dream to share my thoughts and perspectives with the world so that I can be one of the catalysts to creating a better understanding of non speakers in general. 
My hope is that my words will help change the world from sympathy and pity for those like me to one of deeper understanding of our lives and allyship to ensure our rights.

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