Editorial: Self advocacy

I said a few posts back that I wanted to get involved with “Autism advocacy” so I liked a few Facebook pages about Autism, Asperger’s and related disorders thinking it might give me insight into myself and more importantly others like me. Unfortunately, I found the stories I see aren’t “encouraging” or “inspiring” as much as they are triggers for my own experiences – mostly ones I’m trying to forget.

Yes, it’s great waking up and reading a woman with severe ASD has found a job she “absolutely loves,” but then I thought “why is that news?” Frankly, there are only two reasons someone would go to the trouble to write a news story about hiring someone with a neuro-psychological condition is either a “man bites dog” or an “uplifting” piece of PR puffery. Even if we discount both theories, it still serves as an unpleasant reminder of my failings as a job hunter.

This means I have to find volunteer jobs to fill my time, but I’ve found that places I find have no idea what to do with someone like me. I’m either sent back home to not pollute them with my presence (if volunteers are a “reflection” of the organization they work for then visitors would think EVERYONE who works there is also some kind of freak) or sent off to some task so menial that it’s pract-sorry it IS meaningless like “guarding” the very furthest back boundary of the event (where conveniently no-one will see me). I think the final straw for me was having an organizer tell me: “next time you want to help – just send money.”

Just. Send. Money.

That is exactly two things: one is a tax write off (I’m unemployed so irrelevant) and two I get my name added to their “donor” list. You know what “donors” do, right? They donate again and again and again with their sales agent goading them into giving a higher amount each time.

That’s the big take-away from the past twenty years, no-one wants anything to do with me, but they’ll take my money and throw me the hell out. Kind of like my taxi driver this morning, he was super friendly… until I paid him my fare and he started repeatedly growling “THANK you, have a NICE day” in an increasingly threatening tone (financial AND psychological abuse – it’s a twofer). I even tipped him too – despite him driving me around the block twice just to increase my fare – but hey, I’m just an ATM, and no-one cares what an ATM thinks.

Well, I care what I think, and I think I’m better than the way most people think I deserve to be treated. Unfortunately, if I assert myself I become the bad guy and am very swiftly put back into my “place” (odd how no matter who I’m dealing with, said “place” is ALWAYS below them).

I want to do something more meaningful than write a blog only 23 people read about a condition I may or may not have – let alone fully understand – yet I persevere because I know there are people in worse situations who literally cannot speak for themselves (yes, I know not speaking and not being understood are two completely different entities).

Oh, and since generic Disney photos don’t take themselves (okay, there’s a veritable army of more qualified people posting them around the web) so until I figure out a better place to post them I’ll continue posting them here. Kind of sad that a bunch of bland photos and a blog read by 23 people (only one of whom actually “likes” my posts) are the only things I currently offer society…

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Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, editorials | Leave a comment

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