THE AUTISTIC BILL OF RIGHTS
by Penni Winter
It being self-evident that all autistics are human beings, we are entitled to enjoy, in full, the same rights as other human beings, including but not limited to the following –
1) The right to exist. We have the right to enter and stay in the world on the same terms as anyone else, and to not, at any stage of our existence, be subjected to any form of genetic testing, sperm or embryonic selection, abortion, murder, euthanasia or other types of genocide, solely on the grounds of our presumed or actual autism, or the alleged ‘burden’ we place on our families and caregivers.
2) The right to be our true selves. At all ages and stages of our existence, we have the right to be openly and thoroughly autistic, including the right to stim or exhibit other obviously autistic behaviour, without punitive suppression, harsh ‘treatments’ designed to ‘therapise’ our autism out of existence, or pressure to adopt a futile and taxing façade of ‘normality’.
3) The right to respect. We have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times and in all places, regardless of our age, perceived intelligence, level of functioning, ability to communicate, or any co-existing conditions we may have; and to not be the recipient of any form of violence or abuse whatsoever.
4) The right to a positive self-identity. We have the right to reject the concept of autism as a ‘tragedy’ or ‘disease’ in need of ‘cure’, to celebrate being autistic, to define our own autistic identity, and to assert being autistic as a healthy, valid alternative way of being human, no matter our age, functioning level, etc, as above.
5) The right to independence. We have the right to enjoy as much independence as we are individually capable of, to whatever extent and in whatever manner we choose, to have all necessary supports to enable this, and to not be incarcerated against our will, except where and until when a non-autistic would be incarcerated under the same circumstances.
6) The right to gather. We have the right to associate with other autistics on our own terms, to exclude non-autistics from those gatherings if we so choose, and to develop our autistic culture, without scorn, censure, interference or ‘management’, however well-intentioned, from and by non-autistics.
7) The right to political expression. We have the right, if we so choose, to advocate for these and further rights for all autistics, and to challenge the prevailing attitudes and practises around autism, without being patronised, ignored, excluded, scorned, attacked or told we are ‘not autistic enough’, on any grounds whatsoever.
8) The right to be included. We have the right to demand inclusion, in more than token numbers, on and in all and any decision- or policy-making bodies or proceedings about the status, rights, treatment or care of autistics, both in general, and in relation to any autistic individual or individuals.
“Nothing About Us, Without Us!”