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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12 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 am an ableist troll who should be ashamed of myself. Admin have edited my comments because I should not be allowed on the internet.

    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. “Skeptic” – you’re just going to look more and more foolish as time goes on, and feel more and more SHAME as time goes on, as you continue to twist yourself into pretzels to deny that nonspeaking autistics are capable of expressing themselves, and denying their humanity. What is your purpose? Do you know any and have you had conversations with any? What is it in you that you cling to this doubt? What are you afraid of? How have you defined yourself that it’s so important to you to believe nonspeakers are lesser? I’m sorry for you.

  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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