Dear Autistic People,
Sometimes I’m so full of doubt that I sit paralyzed by my own fears. Today was one of those day. Vulnerability time--I’m not autistic. I’m allistic, neurotypical - take your pick. I don’t even lean towards nerdy. I’m just simply neuro-average, born that way. But I’ve created this thing, Love & Autism and sometimes I don’t know how this all came to be.
I’m a clinician. Most of the time, I’m so ashamed of this field of autism that I can hardly label myself as being part of it. Most of the time, I fully understand why you might distrust me, why you might think I’m just part of ‘them,’ the people that perpetuate the hurt under the umbrella of help. I don’t want to be part of “them.’ Not ever.
I did what I do when I’m swirling in my own fear. I called a friend and asked for help, “What in the world do autistic people get out of Love & Autism, what do I have to offer?.” My dear friend, Alex Plank, creator of Wrong Planet, quips, “Are we brainstorming. Cool.” And he reminded me of why Love & Autism is something different.
Its safe. You’ve been hurt, misunderstood, abused, discriminated against. Maybe you love your autistic identity or perhaps self-love is still part of your journey. Wherever you are at, wherever you’ve been, we’ve created Love & Autism to be safe space. You will not be fed pathology bullshit. You will not be told to match society norms for what is normal. You will be seen and understood for exactly who you are.
It begins on the inside. It starts in each of our hearts, our commitment to understand where each of us stands. For me, recognizing neuro-differences is important work. I must consider what I don’t know, commit to understanding the hurt, explore my own neuro-majority status, reconsider and challenge cultural belief systems that doesn’t serve all of humanity, be brave enough to get it wrong sometimes, but still do the work and show up with love. A non-pathologizing paradigm begins on the inside, from being grounded in love for humanity and considering each path - not just my own path, as valuable.
Collective Empowerment. I find so much power in a group. I’ve found immeasurable power in this group. Love & Autism situates itself as bi-directional empowerment; both within and between us. Sometimes our most empowered selves just share a group laugh, other times we find our tribe at Love & Autism or find our own heart space opening because of the words of another. We are empowered when we are open to one another. Together we create, evolve.
This is Love & Autism. This is what I stand for.
Jenny Palmiotto, Founder of Love & Autism
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