Pushing the boulder up the hill

photo of rocks piled on top of each other

Academia is being dragged up by autistic people not just within academia but also within social media. There are a growing number of Autistic led organisations which are involved in policy and educating Autistic and non-Autistic people, including Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), NeuroClastic and Aucademy. Blog  and article writing, activism and advocacy is just as valid as academic research.

All of these mediums can help fight against injustice and neuro-normative ideals which keep all of us compliant and unsatisfied, and a great deal of us oppressed. Things being challenged on all fronts is very exciting.

We’re getting organised. Even those of us with ADHD, we’re getting organised.

It’s an exciting time to be part of specifically trans autistic research but critical autism studies as well. The fact that critical autism studies even exist is amazing, or the MSc in Autism at Sheffield Hallam which is mostly made up off neurodivergent staff and students. That’s exciting because that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago.

Autism research is slowly going in the right direction, but we still must unscramble 70 years of shit to get to there, especially when we must reference deficit-based work which can be really demeaning. There are so many good pieces online which we aren’t allowed to use in research because it is not considered ‘academic.’

All these online advocates and educators, many of whom work for free, are not being heard in academia because they are not considered educated enough because they either don’t have access to it or are uninterested in formal education. People who don’t have the privilege of education are no less valid or less knowledgeable than those of us who do. All these amazing ideas and quotes online are not referenceable simply because people don’t have letters after their name. The information is out there, it shouldn’t matter what medium it comes from.

Some people are kept out of knowledge creation because things aren’t created in the right ways or through the right processes, so that information gets side-lined and devalued. There are so many bloggers out there which are worth reading and referencing and many do boots-on-the-ground work too. Even if they don’t (or can’t) it is not all within our means to work within these areas or to go into education. If someone spends the first 20 to 30 years of their life trying to communicate which being denied AAC, then no education is not going to be accessible for them but that doesn’t mean their voice and however they express themselves is not valid.

I want an appreciation for insider knowledge, knowledge that hasn’t yet broken into what’s considered mainstream acceptable sources. Sharing and uplifting knowledge means we can all push the boulder up the hill together. Let’s do this.

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