Applied to the autistic community, Total Defence refers to our ability to protect ourselves against the full range of threats that includes psychopaths, extremist ideologies, mental illness, technological obsolescence etc.
Total Defence goes beyond just discerning allies from enemies – we must develop and keep improving our capabilities including executive functioning, communication, and social skills so that we can take control of our future. We must be responsible for ourselves because only we can be counted on to protect our interests.
1) Military Defence requires having a strong, reputable, and self-sustaining autistic-led organisation that will deter aggression and protect our community; this organisation will defend us whenever anyone of us is in trouble and fight for our rights. It also involves autistics supporting this organisation by volunteering (which we can see as serving military service for the autistic community).
2) Psychological Defence needs us to develop a positive attitude to ensure that each of us is resilient enough to handle crises, failures and attacks in the course of doing our work and daily lives. We need to be clear about what we are standing for so that we can stay united and do whatever it takes to succeed.
3) Social Defence needs Inclusive Equality: we collaborate with other stakeholders to develop win-win solutions and help look after each other’s welfare. We need to guard against extremist ideologies, hatred and prejudice that will derail our relationships with other stakeholders, including the viewpoints of extremist autistic advocates. Presuming competence, we should befriend, accept, and respect everyone. These stakeholders also include our family members and those who insist that autism is a disease that needs to be cured.
4) Economic Defence requires creating employment opportunities for ourselves including with the help of our allies. If we are not actively creating employment options that we want, then we have no choice but to take the jobs offered to us as an act of charity. If we need financial assistance, then we are at the mercy of those who assist us. For us to be trusted and respected as good partners/workers by employers, we need to ensure that we give them a good deal. Hence, so we cannot simply side with autistics against their employers to blindly demand more rights and higher pay. We must form an equal tripartite partnership between ourselves, our employers/partners and our autistic-led organisation which will work together to invest in the long-term future of autistic employment so that money will keep coming into our pockets.
5) Civil Defence is to be aware and wary of threats that can harm us – be it psychopaths, physical health and potential accidents. We should learn about financial literacy, accumulate savings under our name and buy comprehensive insurance to protect ourselves whenever possible. We should know the law and our rights, and to know who to call for help/support whenever trouble comes visiting. We should learn from the stories and experiences of other autistics to know what we should look out for.
6) Digital Defence is the extension of Civil Defence into the online environment. We need to be careful with what we share online, whom we talk to online, and how we expose our computer systems. We also need to be careful of our speech and behaviour in public or else it may go viral online and create a disproportionate disaster for ourselves.