All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there...Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison...I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

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03 October 2012

Accept Difference. It's Time.

Humankind has fostered great acceptance and enthusiasm toward what seems to be a fascinating and comprehensive number of plant and animal species. Is it not a status symbol of sorts to have a noteworthy collection of National Geographic magazines?

I have been reading National Geographic since I was a young child. It fills me with utter delight to hold a fresh copy within my hands. As I venture into the magazine, I know that I will read and learn about the world in mostly positive exciting ways.

The discovery of a new plant, or the study of a newfound creature, warrants utmost caution, care, and environmental respect. Scientists often go through great lengths to efficiently recreate plant and animal environments while learning and teaching, as it would be an abomination to encroach upon, change, or redirect the fine ecosystem of a unique organism. Press and media surrounding new discoveries is, more times that not, carefully thought out and sincere in its depiction. Mistakes may be pointed out and corrected, but generally, there is mentionable collaboration amongst scientists and other involved peoples. Oftentimes, the species or organism itself is allowed to do the teaching.

What if there were to be an Autism Geographic magazine? I can only imagine the excitement of collecting such a periodical. Inside, there would be autistic people worldwide doing all sorts of different things in different environments. I would run my fingers over the high gloss pages and spend a lot of time rereading the most enticing articles.

I can’t imagine that there would be many people who would want to crush, alienate, or annihilate a new plant or animal species—unless it proved to be fatal to our survival.

Unfortunately, there are many wells from which prejudice is drawn from. And both hatred and misunderstanding stem from fear and miscommunication. It was not so long ago when mass consciousness projected thoughts that women, people of color, foreigners, and children, for example, were not only of lesser status, but also of unsound mind. Disability has been accommodated to some point, but there has not been enough of a shift in public perception regarding those who are different. Only in recent times, has the voice of the autistic come to be heard. Despite the best of intentions from those who care, wrongdoing and atrocity continue to prevail while feeding from ignorance and widespread lack of education.

We live in an indispensable world that dispenses. We are, at times, divided and broken, yet there is always power amongst like-minded individuals. There need only be one catalyst to ignite magnificent change.

Autistic children grow to be autistic adults. It is imperative that resources be directed toward providing and sustaining appropriate and effective education, integration, acceptance, opportunity, and legal protection. Housing and quality healthcare are also of utmost importance.

Voices, both autistic and non-autistic, are rising above the suffocating binds of invisibility, oppression, and misrepresentation. Now is the time to strike. Who will choose to be on board?

[Article originally published on Change.org 23 March 2009]

17 May 2012

You'll grow out of it, by Melanie Yergeau

Melanie Yergeau is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan. A recipient of the 2009 Kairos Best Webtext Award, she researches how disability studies and digital technologies complicate our understandings of writing and communication. She has published in College English, Disability Studies Quarterly, Computers and Composition Online, and Kairos. Additionally, Melanie is an editor for Computers and Composition Digital Press, an imprint of Utah State University Press. Along with John Duffy, she served as a guest editor for the Summer 2011 special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on disability and rhetoric.

Active in the neurodiversity movement, Melanie is the Board Chair of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an organization run for and by Autistic people. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Autism National Committee. In her spare time, she blogs semi-regularly at http://aspierhetor.com, and she is also obsessed with the Electric Light Orchestra.