Tuesday 3 November 2020

A Manifesto of Self-Worth For Autistics

I don’t know who in the autistic community needs to hear this, but I am telling you now –


You are worthy of your space here on this planet, of being treated with respect, and of treating yourself with respect, no matter what your situation, or your feelings, or how others are rating you or treating you.

Because autistics don’t have to be perfect, or anything close to it, to be worthy of that. Nothing we do, or say, or are, or have experienced, matters beside this fundamental fact. It matters only that we’re human, and we’re here.

So it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes in life. Even a lot of mistakes. Even if it seems you do nothing but make mistakes. Or your mistakes feel like earth-shattering ones you’ll never recover from, or you’ve suffered severe social rejection/isolation/bullying/ridicule/whatever because of them, or for your stims, or for ‘just being weird’ either.

It doesn’t matter if you have public meltdowns so bad that even the memory of them makes you cringe, and you’re embarrassed to go back there or see those people again, and often ‘burn your bridges’ as a result.

It doesn’t matter if you ‘can’t get your act together’ (especially as mostly what people mean by that is that you should stop being autistic), or if it always feels like your life is falling apart, or that you never got it together in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if you’re unemployed, or homeless, or you’re in some other horrible situation that you can’t escape, because you simply don’t have the skills or emotional resources or practical support to get out of it. Or you have gotten out but still suffer from PTSD or other mental unwellness because of it, or you feel ashamed of having been that, or been through that.

It doesn’t matter if you need daily help to move through life, and nor does it matter if you don’t have and can’t get that help, so that everything feels like a total mess, or the help available is demeaning and patronising or even abusive, or just not what you actually need.

Nor does it matter if you’re not oral-speaking, or only intermittently so, and you’re deemed ‘low-functioning’, or you’re incontinent/faecal smearing/head-banging/whatever, so no-one expects anything of you, and treats you like a child or like you have no mind of your own.

It doesn’t matter if you are or have been incarcerated in an institution or prison or mental health facility, for whatever reason, and you’re ashamed of that, and feel that you must be a ‘bad person’.

It doesn’t matter if you’re poor, or physically disabled, or old, or single, or don’t fit into the whole cis-hetero thing, or people constantly tell you that you’re ugly, stupid, etc, or that you ‘deserve’ the bad treatment you get.

It doesn’t matter, even, if you can’t love or even like yourself, or you maybe really hate yourself, or feel you lack the qualities that would render someone likeable or loveable.

Ultimately, none of that matters. You’re still worthy anyway.

No matter your situation, no matter your ‘issues’.

Because you still matter.

You still have worth. You are still worthy.

You are still worthy.


And, at the risk of sounding like I’m belittling other liberation movements and their very real struggles – which I’m definitely not – ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many other minority groups you belong to either, because YOU ARE NOT ‘LESS THAN’ because of that, because of your oppression being intersectional. You are STILL worthy of better than whatever bad treatment has been handed down to you because of all of it. ALWAYS.

Because you deserve better than what you’ve had up till now. All of us do. All of us autistics deserve better, all of us are worthy of all the rights other human beings can claim, as well as the right to freedom from the oppressions particular to our lives. Most especially, you are worthy of being counted as human. Even when others do not and will not count you as such – in fact, most especially when that happens.

Because those attitudes, those people, really don’t matter either. Not when weighed against the fact that you – all of you, all of us - are most emphatically still real, still human, still entitled to being treated with decency and respect, still worthy of the space we occupy and the air we breathe, still worthy of people’s time and attention, still worthy of a life where we can openly and freely be our authentic autistic selves and live our lives the way we want and need to live them, still worthy of the right to hold our heads high and be proud of being autistic.

So all that other stuff doesn’t ultimately matter, when it comes to our demanding our rights.

And these rights are non-negotiable, for each and every single one of you. No exceptions. You don’t have to prove anything, live up to anyone else’s standards, become what they want you to be, in order to qualify. Your existence is enough.

Because you’re worth it. You’re worthy of it, of those rights. You all are.

And I’ll say so again and again, for anyone who needs to hear it, even if you’re hearing it through your tears, through your rage, through your fear and pain, through your shame and self-hatred. Because – I repeat - you don’t have to do or become anything in particular to be worthy of the same rights and freedoms that others have.

You just have to be you. Autistic, and human.

And that’s enough.

Never forget it.