I am an autistic woman, studying and working in academia.
I’ve lived and worked in spaces where the pursuit of equality and social justice are presented as ‘given’ priorities – in some university environments, in work and at the kitchen tables of family and friends.
I care personally, deeply and passionately about equality for autistic people. Personal experience of hurt, stigma and troubled identity have led me to try with all of the resources at my disposal to construct a life that works to shield other autistic people from those experiences.
But I have questions.
I have constantly shaped my commitment to autism politics and activism around a need to “find out more about autism”, and about the experiences of other autistic people. I thought that finding out enough would enable me to “have answers”, and to defend those who share this landscape with me. But this doesn’t feel enough anymore.
Now, I want to explore what this word “autism” means in the world. What it means for me: and how it shapes what I say – what I don’t say – what I can’t say.
I want to seek out the intersections and borderlands between what we call ‘autism’ and other sites of disability, marginalization, oppression – all the ways in which society operates to make its members feel that they are just not good enough – failed versions of some elusive perfect ideal.
In short, I want to know how we can pursue the ideal of a better, more equal world, where people don’t have to fight for the fundamental right to be the most contented, fulfilled (and, dare I say it, happy) versions of their unique selves that they have it in them to be – even PhD students.