I am two days late on the World Autism Day post, but better late than never right!

When I started working on my PhD on Autism and my practice with autistic children and adolescents, I started reading voraciously on the subject. And as I just moved to a big Indian city which brags about 24 hours electricity from Kathmandu (with 4 – 16 hrs power cuts almost throughout the year and poor internet), I rediscovered the magic of internet. I was amazed to be introduced to so many autistic self-advocates talking about neuro-diversity and autism acceptance. It gave me access to a community of people fighting for Autism rights. It completely changed my perspective of Autism.

I have been an advocate for equality in diversity for a long time and celebrate being a feminist. Just like till I started analysing patriarchy, I was silent to a lot of injustices, just like till I became interested in the Dalit movement, I was blind to caste discrimination and prejudices in my society, before reading (and reading some more…) from autistic people about neurodiversity and autistic rights, I was blind to the notion of ‘normalizing’ autism being discriminatory to autistic persons. Though, I never could accept treatments or therapies that aspire to cure/normalize autism and have always been more of a child-centered/driven therapist, I did not honestly perceive Autism as a diversity to be celebrated like any other.
Let’s face it, I live in India and previously in Nepal, the lay man here has never heard about Autism (so many medical professionals haven’t a clue what Autism is) and parents panic when they hear the word autism and search the internet. India, being heterogeneous as it is, seems to have more vocal flag holders for treatments to autism than autism acceptance.
There is thankfully now an Indian AAC device called AVAZ that could completely change the way autism is perceived when non-verbal autistic persons are given an AAC device to help in communication. The new generation being more tech-friendly, I am sure our young people with autism today will become activists on the internet and their voices will be part of what Indian parents read when they search about Autism.

Image created by Srinidhi R

When I read my post last year on Autism Awareness, I see several things that I am tempted to change but it marks my transition from Autism the ‘disorder’ to Autism the difference and I want to keep it as a reminder that talking and reading about Autism acceptance is important for that change to happen.

This transition happened thanks to the blogs I read and the children I got to know. They have taught me time and again to not underestimate them, that just because they don’t say it doesn’t mean they don’t know. They have showered me with love, hugs and kisses, making my perennial depression with the state of the world disappear for just a few moments of ‘being in the moment’. Most importantly they have taught me that the Autism Spectrum is diverse and to question my stereotypes about Autism everyday.

So this year I am going to introduce to you Indian Children with Autism. On this blog will feature throughout this month children and adolescents with Autism.

For World Autism Day this year, we wanted a local newspaper to do interviews of different people with Autism and we were looking for autistic adults in the city, but we were unable to find them. Considering Autism Awareness is pretty recent in India, I don’t know how many adults even know about their autism. In bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai, autistic adults are part of the autism rights movement and I have heard them speak at conferences, but internet presence seems small. Here is the one article I found written by self advocate Achyuntal Guha – My Story (who I have heard speaking too) on the Action for Autism website.

Till I find more Indian self-advocates, presenting Shiny Happy children and adolescents who will one day all grow up into Shiny Happy autistic adults.

READ (and follow on twitter) neurodiversity activists:
Thinking People’s Guide to Autism @thinkingautism
Autism Women’s Network @Autism_Women
Autistic Self Advocacy Network @AutSelfAdvocacy
Squidalicious @shannonrosa
Mama be Good @mamabegood

Find others on the Neurodiversity link list and blog roll on this blog.