April Dawn Griffin: Don’t shut down my voice

"Hushed" April Dawn Griffin
"Hushed" April Dawn Griffin

Picking up a paint brush does not mean I’m super human. I’m not an alien hybrid nor am I a gift from God. I’m not special and I’m not a saint. I am a person. We are all people and no one can speak for everyone.

By April Dawn Griffin

There are 200 million Autistics alive today. No one can speak for us all. We do not always agree with each other. We are not Borg –  we are people. Each of us is unique with a different set of needs, challenges and talents.

When we learn to treat Autistics, and everyone as individuals  and support what the individual needs – we might get where we need to go.

I strongly believe that every person should have the right to self determination wherever it is possible. If they can not communicate then it is their primary caregivers job to speak.

I’m tired of functioning labels and I’m tired of debates about the ” levels of autism”.

The only people who call me ” high functioning” are people who are not Autistic and are trying to silence me.

I have become concerned that my positive outlook is taken by others and misconstrued to mean autism is never a disability. Legally we knew I was disabled all along. I was one of the last people to accept that fact because I’m  stubborn and like to do things by myself. And I don’t like to ask for help.

I do not look or act like an eight-year old because I am 40.  I remember being eight very well and it’s not a happy time in my life. I’m incredibly driven to change the way our system handles disabilities because of it. I’m driven by pain that I feel when I remember.

It is okay for me to talk about MY feelings about MY autism and I do not think it is okay for parents of other Autistics to try and shove cotton in my mouth when I have thoughts.

Addressing the needs of Autistics who have jobs or want jobs should not be seen as a threat to others who can not work.

Picking up a paint brush does not mean I’m super human. I’m not an alien hybrid nor am I a gift from God. I’m not special and I’m not a saint. I am a person. We are all people and no one can speak for everyone.

But I can educate. I can answer questions. I can show another way of thinking.

I can not speak for everyone but I can not be silenced either. I have as much right to talk about Autism as anyone else. I want it talked about and not in the closet.

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April Dawn Griffin is an artist on the autism spectrum who resides in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.

 

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