You claim to speak for us, but our voice breaks through
Among many other things, I am an autistic adult. This hasn't stopped me from being married for many years, having a happy life, expressing empathy, and producing art (including this piece). The commercial from Autism Speaks on which this erasure poem is based literally erases me, so I feel it is only fair play to erase their words in reply. Many adults with autism, including me, regard Autism Speaks as a hate group. I hope this will help those puzzled or even angered by this reaction understand why.
~ Chad Musick
I am autism. I’m visible in your children, but if I can help it, I am invisible to you until it’s too late. I know where you live. And guess what? I live there too. I hover around all of you. I know no color barrier, no religion, no morality, no currency. I speak your language fluently. And with every voice I take away, I acquire yet another language. I work very quickly. I work faster than pediatric aids, cancer, and diabetes combined. And if you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain. I don’t sleep, so I make sure you don’t either. I will make it virtually impossible for your family to easily attend a temple, birthday party, or public park without a struggle, without embarrassment, without pain. You have no cure for me. Your scientists don’t have the resources, and I relish their desperation. Your neighbors are happier to pretend that I don’t exist—of course, until it’s their child. I am autism. I have no interest in right or wrong. I derive great pleasure out of your loneliness. I will fight to take away your hope. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams. I will make sure that every day you wake up you will cry, wondering who will take care of my child after I die? And the truth is, I am still winning, and you are scared. And you should be. I am autism. You ignored me. That was a mistake. And to autism I say: I am a father, a mother, a grandparent, a brother, a sister. We will spend every waking hour trying to weaken you. We don’t need sleep because we will not rest until you do. Family can be much stronger than autism ever anticipated, and we will not be intimidated by you, nor will the love and strength of my community. I am a parent riding toward you, and you can push me off this horse time and time again, but I will get up, climb back on, and ride on with the message. Autism, you forget who we are. You forget who you are dealing with. You forget the spirit of mothers, and daughters, and fathers and sons. We are Qatar. We are the United Kingdom. We are the United States. We are China. We are Argentina. We are Russia. We are the European Union. We are the United Nations. We are coming together in all climates. We call on all faiths. We search with technology and voodoo and prayer and herbs and genetic studies and a growing awareness you never anticipated. We have had challenges, but we are the best when overcoming them. We speak the only language that matters: love for our children. Our capacity to love is greater than your capacity to overwhelm. Autism is naïve. You are alone. We are a community of warriors. We have a voice. You think because some of our children cannot speak, we cannot hear them? That is autism’s weakness. You think that because my child lives behind a wall, I am afraid to knock it down with my bare hands? You have not properly been introduced to this community of parents and grandparents, of siblings and friends and schoolteachers and therapists and pediatricians and scientists. Autism, if you are not scared, you should be. When you came for my child, you forgot: you came for me. Autism, are you listening?