Arresting Ableism; Insight and Experiences of a Nonspeaking Autistic

Wisdom doesn’t flourish impeded by people’s egocentrism. Supremacy reigns unless we fight diligently to educate. Question all that you’ve ingested on a human’s worth. When the rights of abled people take precedence over those of disabled people, our great shame is evident, and we must not consider ourselves a modern, progressive society. I am passionate about disability rights. Disabled people truly strive for, yearn for, and deserve respect and equality. 

Respect is not something I have become familiar with so far in my lifetime. People have mistreated, abused, and harmed me. To them I was a substandard human; something to pity or fix. They treated me as if I had a disease, and I internalized that fear and hatred. My mom fought for people to presume competence and treat me as an equal, but few did.

Suffering for years from gravely low expectations my soul barely survived. I try my best not to save people’s doubts about me in my mind now, but find myself fighting to document the hurt and anger I embody. Lasting pain competes for space against rising pride and hope for a drastically improved future for myself and all disabled people. 

Being nonspeaking, many people assumed I was nonthinking and nonfeeling. They spoke in front of me like I wasn’t right there, and said atrocious things about me and my mom. Invariably, I was infantilized, situationally excluded, and undervalued. Reviewing the past, and dissecting my experiences, I’ve come to an austere revelation. So long as society equates worth with intellect, disabled lives are in peril. 

Kindness aims to signal hopeful messages to tame one’s heart, but insightful knowledge lends itself to impactful progress. Fighting ableism takes unyielding faith that allies listen to the voices of those people with experience. I have an unyielding desire to educate. I ultimately believe drastic change is necessary to harbor respect in our collective heart. Yesterday’s pain fuels tomorrow’s battle. My spirit catches fire, poised to take on the world.

Anything and everything depends on writing and speaking one’s truth and others being willing to listen. People fail disabled folk when they refuse to accept all ways of being human. In a more perfect world agency would be respected, disability rights honored, and brave hearts exalted. I and others have wisdom for a deprived and hostile world. Skilled allies wanted.

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13 Responses

  1. Yep, that keeps being observed time and time again, “So long as society equates worth with intellect, disabled lives are in peril.” And I would add, So long as society equates worth with participating in society in the exact same way healthy neurotypicals do, disabled lives are in peril.

  2. Sad truth, thank you for sharing through your lived experience. Please continue to voice your thoughts, feelings and experiences on paper, as a step father (only father) of a behaviorally challenged autistic boy (vocal,13) I have witnessed this very same thing happening to my son and have done my best to usher a new way of thinking. This is confirmation that I am right on time with my approach. Altho all cases are different your words have encouraged me to keep fighting the good fight, cause it does matter.

    Thank you!

  3. I hope the parents were not paid for this article submission. There are too many people exploiting their children for attention and financial gain. Software to compare this against the many publicly available posts one of the parents has made and the writing samples score high probability of being by the same author – I hope publishers start consider digging deeper to verify authorship before sharing things like this. A child worked really hard to learn to type so that their voice could be heard. Someone else sadly discovered that their own voice gets more attention when it comes from behind a mask of their child’s disability. I sincerely hope that Sabrina never comes to understand that she’s been used in this way. Children are not puppets for social advocacy.

    1. That’s an awful accusation to make. Isn’t making that assumption in and of itself ableism and demonstrating first hand to horrific things this child and her family have had to deal with from people like you? Maybe lift them up instead. Or if you have those horrible thoughts, keep them to yourself.

    2. Hi! I’m a family friend, have known Sabrina for a while; she is just a genuine super-talent. Her writing style is so distinct, it’s impossible to replicate by an adult. Have you noticed her word choices are not the way neurotypicals write/communicate?! Not the way adults communicate?

      Sabrina has been through the full experience of being undervalued and this is her choice to show who she is to those who’ve doubted her from the day of being diagnosed. I know her in person; she is every bit as bright and talented as her writing suggests. Her parents would have to be literary geniuses to come up with the things that she writes, the way that she writes them, (and they most certainly are not career writers). They are merely supporting her voice in the things that she wants to say to the world.
      I can already recognize her writing just through a style analysis of her word choices and sentence structure, which are as unique to her as cubism was to Picasso. She is unlike any other writer.

    3. I’m another family friend. I’ve known Sabrina’s father since the day he was born. You are dead effing wrong. And you owe Sabrina an apology.

    4. “Demandbetter” – if that isn’t a misnomer. Will not waste my time with a lengthy reply. Here is video of her typing a later presentation. We have hours of raw footage, and while part of me would like to invite you to view it so you can feel like the ableist fool you are, I’m going to stick with the advice from nonspeaking mentors, which is to “ignore the haters.” But for anyone else who’d like to see/read another incredible work by Sabrina:

      1. Videos where you are visibly tilting the keyboard toward her as a prompt just as her finger hovers over each letter she then proceeds to type.

  4. Thank you Sabrina, everyday in my advocacy I remember the words from people like you, thank you.

  5. “Skilled allies wanted.”

    May I apply? I’m not exactly an ally of the Autistic community being a member of it, but I did get some extremely harmful advocacy (regarding the denial of sufficient water to non-speaking autistic people and cranking up the heating in a car they were in on a hot day) pulled from the PrAACtical AAC website in less than twelve hours today. I think that might qualify me for the role of being an ally to non-speaking autistic people.

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