The beginning of a new year is like a big canvass where we write our hopes and our plans. Yet, the unfulfilled plans, the shattered hopes, the ever present fears of years past are like shadows on this brand new canvass.
Our successes are like the light that illuminates the still empty space and we count on this light to help us put enough colors in the part of our lives we are about to paint.
My canvass this year sits on a bright spot, the light coming from all sides, carried here, to this moment, by the accomplishments, victories and successes from years past.
I am happy with my personal accomplishments as an autistic activist; I am growing as a social justice activist; I am exploring and learning more about myself, about who I am. I joyfully thread my path with many incredibly kind friends, with a community of equals.
I am also grateful for my community’s growth. We have been restless about demanding our rights, about fighting for each other, about exposing the flaws of an old rule that required us to stand silent and compliant in order to satisfy an obliviating majority.
No longer we wait to be heard. We speak out and loud, unmasking self-appointed allies and revealing the farce staged in the name of helping us.
The shadows of all the silencing, all the unwillingness to listen to us, all the disparaging and demeaning words directed at us, the hate of some that is met with conformity and agreement by many, the useless and unwanted pity that doesn’t help, but hinders, all this threatens to put big dark spots on my ready to live, full of hope, new year.
I am, though, an optimist. Or I try to be. I try to learn to be patient and remember that other groups’ fight for their rights also took a long time, and that their fight is not really over.
The colors I want to see in my canvass by the end of the year are colors representing our successes in bringing more people to our civil and human rights fight through information and relentless questioning of the status quo.
The past year was like a rainbow, when I look at the many allies who joined us in our quest to dismantle old myths.
I also am prepared for a splash of colors that will show our fight to educate the health care providers about how to understand us, and learn how to listen to us.
The quest for justice has been a hard one. I hope our voices will be loud and bright when the abusers and murderers of disabled people try to paint themselves as victims; I hope we will be strong to face the condescending tone of parents and professionals who are having a hard time acknowledging that we grew up and we can speak up about autism with an insight they will never have, and that asking for respect is not discriminating against parents, it is demanding the inclusion of all, their children too.
These occurrences, together with more and more attempts to devalue us, asking for our murder as lawful and merciful, are a very dark spot right in the middle of all my colorful moments.
My life has been rich in fulfillment. I now hold the brush that will define the hues and contours of the events. I need my friends with me, because there are many things and people trying to take the brush away from me.
My canvass, today, a few days into this new painting is bright with hope, with little shadows as a reminder of wrongs not yet fixed, wrongs that do not allow our place at the table . But my canvass also has a few colorful spots of successes already achieved.
The bright colors of a rainbow occupy a special spot: a new generation of autistics( Emma, Henry ) finding their voices, their pride, and fighting, with us, for their rights.
I am ready to start my painting, and I am ready to fill with colors the shadowy spots.