My autism work is about the fourth generation paradigm of Inclusive Equality.
In the first generation paradigm, disability is ignored or fixed. Disability is associated with or attributed to moral defects such as laziness and divine retribution. Disability is considered as something to be fixed through medical or other forms of intervention. The disabled person is the problem in the medical model of disability. The relationship of shame is ultimately unsustainable as the disabled people are unable to pretend to be non-disabled.
In the second generation paradigm, disability is pitied. The hardship of disability is recognised and efforts are made to provide disabled people with a dignified life. Disability is considered as something which cannot be fixed but can only be accepted unconditionally. Lack of compassion is the problem in the charity model of disability. The relationship of dependency is ultimately unsustainable as the disabled people are unable to take care of themselves.
In the third generation paradigm, disability is celebrated. Disability is considered a social construct which arises because of how society is built – if most of us are all deaf then the hearing are disabled because society would have been designed assuming that we are all unable to hear. The non-disabled are expected to compensate for their natural privilege by making great efforts to put the needs and feelings of disabled people above their own. Mainstream society is the problem in the social model of disability. This relationship of pride, with its emphasis on Unconditional Inclusion (e.g. paying to provide sign language interpretation even if no deaf person is attending an event) is idealistic, unequal and ultimately unsustainable. Also, because it is politically incorrect to suggest that disabled people strive to improve their ability to adapt to mainstream society, their inferior social status continues to be perpetuated as they cannot compete equally and must rely on support from others.
In the fourth generation paradigm, disability is equalised. The needs and emotions of all people are considered equally important – there is neither a need for shame nor pride. Accommodations for disability are necessary investments that help disabled people to contribute as equals; these investments are done in a pragmatically and strategically considering the limitations of resources in our society. Everyone is the problem in the Integrated Model of Disability. In our relationship of equality, we all have a responsibility to work together as equal partners to create a society where we all co-exist peacefully in a mutually beneficial manner. This is what our disunited and unhappy world needs – equality, empathy, unity and prosperity for all peoples.
The reverse of ableism is not disableism (i.e. putting disabled needs above non-disabled needs), but equality. The day when everyone is comfortable discussing disability without worrying about causing offense by using the wrong term is the day when true inclusion reigns.
As the originator of Inclusive Equality, I am in the business of building unity, not advocacy. I am in the business of practical solutions, not unattainable ideology. I am in the business of becoming the change that I seek, not demanding change from others.
People often misunderstand what I do because they think I am just another autistic advocate trying to be heard. That is not what I intended when I started my work.
I am not here to demand that people listen to me or to educate people about autism. I am here to make a sustainable win-win deal of equals so that we may all live peacefully and meaningfully together through mutual benefit and acceptance.
The extent that the advocacy is for or against mutual empathy and world unity is the extent that it fits with my work. In other words, anyone who splits people apart (e.g. declaring that only Actually Autistic people should be involved in autism conversations) and demonizing certain groups of people (e.g. ABA therapists) are in conflict with my work.
Some autistics are angry and their advocacy is about venting their anger (e.g. my family members are bullying me and they ought to stop)
Some autistics feel inferior and their advocacy is about asserting their value (e.g. you must respect and include me, I have a Ph.D.)
Some autistics feel lonely and their advocacy is about seeking emotional support and companionship (e.g. please give me compliments about my dance performance and art even if they have no professional value)
Some autistics feel prideful and their advocacy is to assert their superiority over NeuroTypicals and fellow autistics (e.g. I am like Albert Einstein, my brain is better than yours)
Pride is not the answer to shame. Pride is only an attempt to attack shame – a rebuttal against discrimination and a struggle against oppression. However, what we resist, persists. What we condemn, condemns us back. What we deny of others, we deny of ourselves. Acceptance is the Answer. And Acceptance is simply Acceptance – no shame and no pride. After Acceptance is Action. Action is not about the darkness we lived in the past, but brilliance of who we will become in the future.
I have written this website to provide new perspectives that help us to create new possibilities in our life, especially for the autistic community which has been deeply misunderstood and in need of support. Let me start by asking a heretical question to autistic readers: who are we without our autism?
This is not a statement of support for a “cure” for autism, not that autism is shameful, not that we should hide our diagnosis, not that autism is a fake condition, It is just an invitation to reflect on a new possibility.
When we define ourselves as something, then there is something that we are not. In our mind, autistics can do certain things and cannot do certain things, they have certain strengths and certain weaknesses. While this list varies for each person, it exists within us, often as unquestioned assumptions.
What if we let go of all our identities and just let ourselves be free to be and do whatever it is that we are meant to do? The possibilities are endless. With our inner freedom, we can finally be free to break the endless cycle of discrimination.
In other words, do not be limited by autism and NeuroTypicialism. Do not define yourself with a label. Do not believe your own stories about who you are. Be in the world but not of the world.
Autism and NeuroTypicialism are just one way to describe some concepts. The map is not the territory, the words are not the identity. Who we are is independent of autism and NeuroTypicialism; we are simply us. When we act freely without the artificial words and stories hindering us, we can unleash our full potential to achieve the unthinkable.
Whether other people think we are autistics or NTs is their business. We are simply ourselves, our reality which transcends words simply is. Whether we are behaving like “typical” autistics or NTs does not matter. What matters is that we do what it takes to make our life better – be it getting a fulfilling job or a romantic partner or an enjoyable social life.
I am here to help break the inner boundaries confining ourselves so that we can create powerful change in this world despite being heavily disadvantaged. This is the spirit of my work: We are small but mighty.