If you’ve been through the American school system, you probably remember learning about the Bill of Rights. If you’re not from the US, or you slept through a decade of history classes, what we call the Bill of rights is just the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. With the exception of the 10th Amendment, 1-9 cover the guaranteed rights of an individual person.
Now, we all know that when the writers pictured a “person”, they thought of a Christian, white, male who owed property, so clearly, the Bill is not as comprehensive as you’d think.
Some groups have used the official Bill as a template, writing things like The Patients Bill of Rights, and The Students Bill of rights, and I think that it’s about time that we made one for ourselves.
Note: Some of these cannot apply to young children, but they should take effect as soon as possible.
So here are what I think are the most important individual rights for Autistic People.
The Autistic Bill of Rights
I. No Autistic Individual shall have their experiences compared to others, whether they be Autistic or Allistic.
II. Autistic Individuals shall enjoy the right to communicate in ways that are natural for them, including but not limited to echolalia, stimming, and flapping.
III. The opinion or voice of no Allistic Individual should be given precedence above the voices and experiences of those of an Autistic Individual.
IV. The Autistic Community holds the right to choose the language which pertains to them, and when language is chosen, it shall be respected by all.
V. No Autistic Individual shall be denied access to tools that are necessary for their wellbeing, regardless of their ability to afford them.
VI. The right of the Autistic Individual to have the validity of their diagnoses respected, by strangers, family members, and professionals.
VII. A well-rounded option of therapies shall be made available, and Autistic people shall have the right to decide which, if any, they want to implement.
VIII. It is the natural right of an Autistic Individual to be treated as the age that they are, and not as the age that others perceive them as.
IX. The right of the people to be secure in the fact that their issues, including social, sensory, and food, shall be taken seriously and treated as such
X. No person shall, for any reason, disclose the diagnosis of an Autistic Individual without their consent.
These ten “amendments” cover what I see as the most important issues facing our community right now, although these all come from my experiences, which I recognize are not universal. I’d love to get more voices involved, and to put together a community approved Bill of Rights, so if that’s something you’re interested in. or would like to share with a wider audience, please contact me!