The Autistic Empire operates from five principles as the foundation that our community is built on.
Autism is an ordinary variant of human neurology
Autism is our operating system. It cannot be uninstalled. Autism is how we process and filter information, and through our autism we subsequently understand and interact with the world. We cannot be fixed, or cured, or trained to be neurotypical. And this is not desirable.
The current generation of aspies have inherited a very volatile conversation in the field of autism. 70 years ago, Kanner was accusing “refrigerator mothers” of producing autistic kids by not hugging them enough. Then there was childhood schizophrenia. Then the triad of impairments. Now there’s a dyad of impairments. To be recognised as autistic, you still have to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. There’s been Asperger’s, High Functioning Autism, classical autism, semantic pragmatic disorder and Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
The Autistic Empire believes in a different paradigm – that autistic people have existed for at least several thousand years and that we’re normal. A minority, to be sure, but one which has been present throughout history in the same way as gay people. Only our understanding of what it means to be autistic and how we should treat autistic people has changed. And it has to change further.
All autistic people are one people
Autistic people, verbal or not, are the only people who can communicate with us in a language we instinctively understand and never had to learn. There is no them and us. There is one autistic community, and we are responsible for each other.
There are some people in our community who want to create a separation between Aspergic people, and autistic people, with the idea being that Aspergic people have been blessed with intelligence and insight and independence from emotions and sensory whims and our autistic siblings – haven’t. This is not the position of the Autistic Empire.
We believe that autistic people share commonalities regardless of their abilities, their independence, or their success. We believe that an autistic adult who visits a special school for autistic children will find that they have more in common with the children they meet than the non-autistic adults who work there.
The Autistic Empire will not leave anyone behind.
We do not need a cure; we want solutions
Autism is part of who we are. Remove the autism, and you remove the very core of what it means to be us. It cannot be done without destroying us. You *cannot* cure us.
Autistic people have the same hierarchy of needs as any humans – food, shelter, security, self-fulfillment and love. Uncountable sums are being spent on researching a cure instead of solutions to help us achieve the things that matter to us, and it is a waste of everyone’s money.
There are nonetheless hundreds of millions being poured into the search for a cure. That is hundreds of millions that are not being spent on creating and developing technologies and services that would benefit autistic people. In a world of limited funding, we need resources to focus on other technologies that are guaranteed a return on investment. Technologies like discreet, cool-looking alternative communication devices that operate through thought or vocal cord vibrations so that non-verbal people can have the choice to communicate via speech-generating devices or to type on a keyboard.
As long as the world continues to try to cure us or screen us out of existence at birth, it is our responsibility to build an autistic economy, and develop the tools and services we need ourselves.
Autism does not disable us; societies disable us
It is the belief of the Autistic Empire that we should start from the perspective of who autistic people are.
Relatively few people would call someone who wears glasses disabled. The use of glasses and contact lenses to correct poor eyesight is so normalised, that no-one considers that glasses are specialist equipment to help people live in a society that communicates in text, and fixes the size and colour of print and signage to a specific range of sight ability that it considers normal. Similarly, the societies in which autistic people live have been structured around neurotypical norms, and not autistic ones.
Autistic children have eccentric development in ways that are different to neurotypical children but are relatively predictable for autistic children. If we know these things to be true, than it would appear to be the case that autistic developmental milestones are simply different from neurotypical ones.
Education autistic people must be re-structured so that autistic children are not asked to develop in the manner of neurotypical children, a manner that they cannot possibly achieve and which creates life-long trauma and reduced skills and happiness. Autistic adults who did not receive such an education need to receive it.
Autism does not excuse us from civility or personal development
All humans influence the people around them and their environments through their interactions. Autistic people should have autonomy over their interactions with peers on the same basis as neurotypical people.
Every minority surrounded by a majority have to make decisions about what extent they want to separate or assimilate from that majority. Every autistic person has to decide for themselves to what extent they are willing to compromise their identity or to develop their behaviour in order to fit in with that majority. That also means that we are then responsible for the consequences of those choices
No-one is obliged to associate with a person if they do not derive happiness or pleasure from associating with them. No-one owes us friendship or a job. But we have long suffered as a people from pedagogic systems that do not understand how we learn and do not teach us properly, leading to widespread despair at our inability to understand what people mean and how to communicate effectively. The goal of the Autistic Empire is to help people to gain the self-knowledge necessary to make those choices about how they wish to interact with the world and others, and be content with those choices.