Applied to the autistic community, Total Defense refers to our ability to protect ourselves against the full range of threats that includes psychopaths, extremist ideologies, mental illness, technological obsolescence etc. Total Defense 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 lead ourselves by ourselves. Ultimately, we must be responsible for ourselves because only we ourselves can be counted on to protect our interests.
1) Military Defense is having a strong and reputable autistic-led organization that will deter aggression and protect our community; this organization will defend us whenever anyone of us is in trouble while fighting for our rights and benefits. It also involves autistics supporting this organization by volunteering (which we can see as serving military service for the autistic community).
2) Psychological Defense is ensuring 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 Defense is about 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 partnership including those by some autistic advocates. Presuming competence, we should befriend, accept, and respect everyone. These stakeholders also include our family members as well as parents who think that autism is a disease that needs to be cured.
4) Economic Defense is creating employment opportunities for ourselves including with the help of our allies. If we are broke then we are at the mercy of other people. For us to be trusted and respected as good partners/workers, we need to ensure that we give others a good deal. Hence, so we cannot simply side with autistics against their employers to blindly demand rights and higher pay. We need to build an equal tripartite partnership between ourselves, our employers/partners and our autistic-led organization 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 Defense 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 direct control and buy comprehensive insurance to protect ourselves whenever possible. We should know the law and our rights, and be ready 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 Defense is the extension of Civil Defense 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 behavior in public or else it may go viral online and create a disproportionate disaster for ourselves.