I have been reading quite a bit on human rights and disability both in the media and in philosophy, and I am appalled at the power the label “disability” has alleviated human beings of their agency and their rights.
Human rights are defined universally by the UN with specific charters for women and the disabled. I urge everyone to actually look it up themselves. And, please note as well the countries that didn’t sign, didn’t ratify, and/or put tons of caveats.
The basic point is that each human is just by virtue of being human is entitled to universal rights.
The principles of the present [disability rights] Convention shall be:
- Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
- Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
- Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
- Equality of opportunity;
- Equality between men and women;
- Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
Here are some of the ways in which Autistics have faced human rights abuses at the hands of their caregivers and the public:
- Obsession with Cures/Pre-Natal Testing/Anti-vaxx: Hate of difference. This kind of crap LGBTQI also went through. Can we cure it? Fix it? Prevent it? They even get angry at Autistics for speaking out against this hate because we “clearly can’t understand” what the parents and their kid are going through, mostly the parents. They want to wipe us out of the gene pool by any means necessary, including refusing their NT child the life-saving properties of vaccines that have literally no connection to Autism whatsoever. Why? The medical profession has made billions on the idea that Autism is a disease that they could cure, but even they are now saying they cannot reduce Autism to a single cause or magic bullet product. The move inevitably will be toward acceptance, and hopefully a treatment for the worst co-morbids.
- Freedom to Have Independence Often Barred: Our ability to make choices and have independence is often tied to our diagnosis. We’re either denied rights because we haven’t been diagnosed, unemployed, and are stuck under the control of family or diagnosed and on disability, or can’t seem to get out of the cycle of bad employment followed by no employment. All of the above infringes upon our ability to lead productive lives. Granted the other end of the spectrum is a bit less and less able to make free decisions, but it should be fostered to the best of their ability.
- Reproductive Rights Taken Away: This was mentioned in a repugnant book by a Judith Newman (I refuse to plug her here), but I have seen numerous blog posts as well, mostly written by mothers who think their children will never be capable of raising a child. They may not entirely be wrong in all cases, but they should be given ample time to determine it. Yet, I keep seeing this discussion of wanting the right to force vasectomies and hysterectomies on Autistic children. The youngest I’ve seen was eight. They don’t even know what he or she will be like at 18 or 26 or 32 and yet they are ready to make life-changing procreation choices for them? Is this out of concern for care or is this out of fear of more Autistic people in the world?
- Growth into Adulthood Denied: In the same vein, removing the sexual organs before puberty would keep the child from growing further. At least one mother argued that keeping her child small will make them easier to care for as she grew old. Humans aren’t dollies to carry around. Disability doesn’t grant you the ability to alter someone in this way. What does this also say the mother? Our healthcare system?
- Children Taken: I know of one woman whose children were taken from her once she was diagnosed, although I admittedly don’t know the whole story.
- Disability Discrimination: “But, you don’t look Autistic.” “Autistics can’t [insert random life action here]. My friend’s cousin is Autistic, so I know.” “You can’t be Autistic; your eye contact is too good.” “You’re not Autistic, you’re just lazy.” “Retard!” “Weirdo! Freak!” We are constantly insulted or back-handed completed for masking well. We are called names for not fitting in. We can’t get the help we need without an embarrassingly patronizing display from healthcare professionals, and so on.
- Work Discrimination: The right to better ourselves is often denied us by hostile work environments that becoming more and more homogenized. Accommodations are woefully lacking and often insufficient. People gossip, manipulate, and back-stab normally, but they were worse towards those with invisible disabilities that they can make use or fun of. It’s exhausting. Trying to “pass” as normal doubles the damage, and further leaves us with severe self-esteem issues.
- Diagnosis Male-Oriented and therefore Male-Biased: Female diagnostic criteria for ASD is still not in the DSM. Still.
I’m not seeing any of these values in the treatment of those of us with hidden disabilities, with extra emphasis on ASD because of our social deficits. This is rather eye opening.