Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Ethics and Autism Access to Historic Sites

Over the last few years, I have worked with excellent charities and organisations. Lots have been places that are historic. They want to get more visitors, and they want autistic visitors to feel welcomed. Excellent.
Unfortunately, some have not understood autism. And, quite accidentally, I am sure, have linked to anti-autism groups and materials. Ones that portray us as tragedies, incompetent, a disaster for families. Ones that promote 'cures' and wish to see autism eradicated.
It is similar to Trustees saying, 'How can we attract more LGBT people?' - and then linking to gay-cure groups. Or to groups portraying being gay, bi or Trans as a tragedy for those around them.
Autism is not an illness. We are not a tragedy.  It is not a 'low IQ'. We are a neurodiversity. We have a different communication system, a different way of socialising and encountering the world.
When I am asked to work with people who see me as a tragedy, that is not a respectful starting point.
I ask organisations to work collaboratively. Responsibly. Respectfully.
If your organisation would like two million more fabulous, wonderful autistic visitors, experts, colleagues and friends, get in touch.
If your organisation wants to link to 'anti-autism' groups, I cannot provide you with access services. In the same way, you will probably not get Black and Minority Ethnic advisers to work with you if you see being Black as tragic. Nor will you probably get LGBT advisers to work with you if you ask them to work with gay-cure groups as co-workers.
Good diversity inclusion starts with respecting one another.
If you are being asked to ignore autistic advisers, and instead work only with parents who major on, "Look how I have suffered", that is a huge 'red flag'. Think very carefully about the message you are giving. You want to have articles by actual autistic people. Advice from actual autistic people. Leadership and projects by actual autistic people. Two million of us means there is a wealth of talent out here.
Thank you for listening.