Experiencing Resistance to Inclusion
This past weekend I was scheduled to speak at the Birth Texas conference on a panel on Inclusion in Practice for birthing professionals. I want to answer one of the questions I was presented by the moderator.
Where have you experienced resistance to expanding your approach to inclusion?
I believe we all know that within the Autism community that Autistic people have experienced resistance to our approaches to inclusion. It is not so hard to see with the “You are not like my child.” (Yes, we are.) It’s not hard when we say don’t do ABA because it’s abusive and then get asked if there’s an alternative that works as well. (I’m creating a response.) I could go on and on, but really, that’s not what this is about.
We seek inclusion and honestly to be the dominant narrative on the Autistic experience. I tend to stay within this community because it’s what I know. Unlike a lot of my Autistic friends, I am just not someone most people are aware of. I haven’t been around as long as some, and haven’t done as much speaking as others, or marketed myself like yet others. As such, I don’t get many invitations to speak. This summer, that changed. I was asked to speak at two conferences, neither in the disability realm (but on disability topics). It was a welcome change, but what I definitely see is what many others have seen.
Our inclusion is more or less expected, unless we are the foremost disability leaders, to be experiential. My approach to inclusion, while sometimes padded with experience, is not experience based. I actually bring with me research and policy. The resistance to this is amazing to me. You’d think people would prefer knowing information with sprinkles of experience to make it relatable, but apparently not so.
Our inclusion comes with all the emotional labor. Our social justice is just not included in the other social justice arenas. When “disability” is literally tacked on to the end as a revision when it’s obvious it was missing before, this is not inclusion. If we expect to have our questions actually questioned, we must be ready to do the leg work ourselves. And even then, our exclusion may happen.
I had been looking forward to branching out (and for the upcoming LLL Texas conference, I still am), but the twinge of doubt that any social justice space will ever be inclusive is definitely there now. My multiple intersections, Autistic, chronic pain, Native American, pansexual ciswoman married to a transwoman, and parent to 3 neurodivergent children… the likeliness is my family will likely never be fully included. My experience with inclusion is multifaceted and there is no level of my work that doesn’t meet with resistance. And for the time being, I must assume this as reality so hopefully others will not experience it later.