Messages from the Art Room

Credited to Paige Mead of

Messages from the Art Room

I spent period 1A in the art room most days, a senior in high school with an “internship” that I was never really asked to do anything with. Inevitably I drifted to a quieter place, to the art room during the AP Art class. No matter what was going on, the decibel level never rose above a level of quiet peace. Sometimes, I came just to listen to something without chaos. Sometimes it kept the sad away, a darkened room with soft lighting shining enough to see without my eyes hurting, and enough to prevent the darkness getting to me from dim, shadowy corners populated by uncleaned glue drips and dustballs.

There were other places where I could go and stop trying so hard to seem allistic, where being autistic was not a violent and shameful thing. Those places were where no one minded, but these solaces were few and this was my prime location. The only dangers of stimming here were maintaining my balance on a tall stool and ruining whatever I was drawing by the motions of my hands, or by accidentally making the table twitch.

In the art room, I could think in flowing abstract designs. I did not have worded thoughts when drawing if hyperfocusing enough. The drawings blossomed from simple lines to complex patterns and details, first in black and white on foam board, to typing paper, to ultra-fine tipped Sharpies that exploded across tougher bristol-board sketchbooks in almost psychedelic swirls and flower-like shapes that looked almost from a dimension achieved through hallucinogens.

It was the only thing I could do with my hands that involved fine motor skills. It was the only thing that let me use no words.

No one fought me in this room. No one tried to force “normal” or “neurotypical” on me.

That was as it should have been. That is how it should be. Battlegrounds against autism are sometimes fought by people who believe it is a disease and a travesty, either because they want to be saviors or because they want to rid the world of disease. Battlegrounds should not even exist. To be autistic is still to be human, and to be autistic is not the violent and shameful thing my first years after diagnosis made it out to be. To be autistic is not to be diseased. There is not an external force causing it, something that cannot be taken away and leave the same person in its place.

Words that are used in military strategies should never apply to autism. We are not victims who need saving. We do not need to be fought against. Autism is not a shapeless entity bent on destroying people and families. Autism is part of us, the autistic people. We do not need the endless propaganda saying it is a war against the tragic and the terrible. The only tragedies are that autistic voices – and other disabled voices – are often ignored, overlooked, or have attempts made to ignore them, and that when autistic people and other disabled people are murdered by caregivers, the sympathy and the media gravitate toward the perpetrators.

And who of us are the affected? All of us autistics and disabled fellows who are told our lives are worth less. The children who grow up having an unnecessary battle fought against not just the disability, but part of themselves. All of us who are dismissed as knowing nothing of our own disabilities. The disabled individuals whose lives are cut short.

The art room had one last meaning to share. Hung on the wall, a painting of a meadow of flowers with some broken-down military machinery, read:

What if they gave a war, and nobody came?

To those trying to combat us – don’t. Stop combating me. Stop combating us.

To those on the sidelines: Help stop combating us. When those who believe there should be something akin to a war against autism keep trying to continue it, don’t show up to support them.

What if they gave a war, and nobody came?


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Liquid Man – A Poem of Acceptance #StopCombatingMe

Written by Leah Kelley

If you follow my blog you will know my family lives in Vancouver, Canada – and it may appear that we are removed from what happens with bills and acts and legislation in the US – but the reality is – we are very much affected. Sometimes a struggle, like the fight for human rights and social justice, must by necessity transcend borders. This is one of those times. I wrote this poem for H and others…

Liquid Man



I see you perched on the edge

A balanced droplet

Reflecting back the whole world

Defying gravity

Rocking softly


With gently swayed rhythm 


Owning your body’s movements

Choosing curled still solitude




I see you sliding down a wall

The edge that keeps you

Gives solace

Defining your space

You say awkward

Some might accuse: flop

(they know not)

I see ownership of liquid beauty

You puddle on the floor

Relaxed fails as a descriptor

Your words are spinning

Weaving thoughts


And I can hardly keep up

But the vision of your

Wall water self

Exploring concrete edges

That anchor

As your thoughts

go to places far and wide

The naturalness

The beauty in the authentic

The message in that move

Is nourishment





I see you reflected

And reflecting

And dazzling

Water in water


Ripples felt as you move



Sound and movement amplified

Emotions intensified

The Butterfly Effect


Connected in the wake

Or the wave

The pebble in the pond

Affecting one other

We pool






15, 23, 52

I see the silent power of your liquid ways

Refusal to be contained

Stuffed down

Boxed in

Shaking off shame’s plea for a discrete mopping

Water protests, in all its liquid forms:

Drops, tears, puddles, pools, and oceans wide

To combat the stream is folly

It is to miss the moment of perfect stillness

Where the whole world is reflected

That convex bead

Tenuous balance held forever

In the present tense of poetry


Destined to be triumphant

This is the power of persistence…

Rail against the rock

And honour yourself in all your watery forms

Leah Kelley, March 10, 2014

You can find more information about this action and tell Congress to reform the Combating Autism Act or to let it expire.  Sign the petition and learn more here:

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REFORM or EXPIRE: Either Way, #StopCombatingMe

Written by Renee Salas

Many of you may or may not know the Combating Autism Act (CAA) is up for re-authorization this September. The CAA was put into place to provide funding to ‘combat’ autism and while the language within the law suggests that it should include research into support services, the spending priorities of the law are identification and cure research. Because of this, many Autistic advocates, activists and family members are asking that Congress either reform CAA or let it expire all together. Our greatest concerns are voiced in the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network’s (ASAN) Memorandum on CAA Re-Authorization.

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Stop Combating Me

By Ibby of Tiny Grace Notes

Congress is getting ready to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act, and I hope they don’t. I’d rather have them write a real thing that does what people meant for this one to do when they accidentally voted it in, back in 2005.

I’m tired of politicians and fake charities tricking everyone.

This act says it helps us and our families.

But if you ask my mother, she will not say preventing me from being born would have helped her. My father is glad I was born, too. I think my brother and sister are also pretty happy about this thing of me existing instead of being never-born. Don’t get my wife started on this topic, unless you want to find out what an irate Scot looks like.

However, the vast majority of research money for “Combating Autism” under this act is ear-marked for prevention of us. Preventing families doesn’t really help families, when you think about it.

If I had not been born, my children would not have been born.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network reports:

Of the $217 million NIH spends on autism research, only 1.5% goes towards the needs of adults and 2.4% towards improving services. We can do better. Will you help by signing our petition telling Congress to reform CAA and to stop combating people on the autism spectrum and families? You can find it HERE. (Please click and sign!)

Some people think “Combating Autism” is the wrong name for this act, because it is helping us instead of fighting us. But I think it is being pretty honest about what it is.

It is fighting against us instead of trying to help us.  I can respect the honesty. But I would prefer respect and real help for real people. I prefer being treated as a real person.

Please, readers, will you sign the petition and ask them to stop combating me and people like me?


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#stopcombatingme Poem

Written by Jessica Benham

Don’t put me in the box of your preconceived notions
Boxes are for boring people who don’t know how to
Dream in a different language
Doesn’t translate to your verbal backlash
To my stimming presence
Limited perception makes my words lack meaning
Hear my entire meaningful beautiful stimtastic transmission
Just cause I can pass as NT doesn’t mean I must
Make you feel comfortable
You are already comfortable dismissing me
Blaze a Scarlet A across my chest
But I, I will hold that burning sensation in my mouth
Spend my entire life feeling lesser
Since my neurology is not in vogue
My autism won’t go into remission
Stop Combating Me

Please also have a look at this powerful and moving video that Jess recorded of  her poem:

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Order 66. Order 66. Order 66

Alyssa from Yes, that too.

Order 66. Order 66. Order 66.

I know that reference. (Star Wars, order to kill the Jedi)

Exterminate. (Doctor Who, Daleks)

Well, eradicate is the word they use. They don’t want to be quite so obvious as to actually quote the creepy science fiction or science fantasy examples.

And yet.

I don’t get how it’s not that obvious. With people from outside the “autism community” (in quotes, because there is no such one world, but still used because some people are outside all the autism and autistic communities) hear what is going on, they get that it’s messed up pretty fast. Not all the pieces, but that something is very wrong here? Oh, yes, they get that fast.

Not living, just existing? That line that disillusioned parents recently makes friends, teachers recoil.

They said WHAT on a PSA?!” That’s the reaction when I tell them about the woman who told the world she considered murder-suicide in Autism Every Day.

But… good parents don’t kill their kids…” Yeah, I know. And for some reason, when I or others like me tell the parents of autistic kids this… they manage not to get it.

Sure, they might not how much am like the “poor dears” pictured, but they get that killing people is wrong and they get that encouraging murder is wrong and they get that speaking like your children robbed you of your (and their) lives is wrong.

Somewhere in combating autism (but not autistic people, or so they say) it became OK to combat the autistic people. Right now, I don’t really care if it’s somehow possible to combat autism but not autistic people (pretty sure it’s impossible, because autism isn’t separate from us, but right now that’s not even the point.) I care that right now we are combating autistic people. We are. Autistic people are having childhoods taken away in the push for typicality, autistic people are being locked away, autistic people are dying of the ways people try to combat autism. Even if you think it’s possible to combat autism but not autistic people, the fact remains: that’s now what’s actually happening. What’s actually happening is taking its toll on autistic people, not some nameless and shapeless autism sans person.

Maybe you could argue that they’re not specifically trying to combat autistic people, but is considering autistic people acceptable collateral damage really any better? I say no: it’s calling the lives of autistic people worth so little that we’re acceptable losses in the fight against autism. It’s making it acceptable to turn autistic people into a battlefield for the sake of combating autism. (Ever seen a battlefield after the battle? Yeah, don’t turn a place into a battlefield in order to “save” it, it doesn’t work. Doesn’t work any better when the battlefield is a person.)

Do you think us being the battlefield or the collateral damage instead of the enemy makes us any less combated? It doesn’t. Face that reality: even if we’re not the intended targets of combating autism, combating autism is still hurting autistic people. It’s still combating the very people you probably think you’re helping when you say you’re combating autism. Unless the autistic people aren’t the ones you’re doing this for, but our oh-so-overwhelmed family members (note the sarcasm, please.) If that’s the case, at least be honest about it: you’re then combating us because you think we make life harder for the real people or whatever. (Think we’re real people? Then maybe our lives should matter, huh?)

Don’t like the implications of any of those ideas? Maybe you should take the hint, and stop combating us.


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Stop Combating Me – Why I Am Against Euthanasia

Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean:

Today is “Stop Combating Me” flashblog. We are not the enemy but the way legislation is written puts us in real danger.

'Fight Autism' in black  the word Autism is covered with red banner with 'Ignorance' over the top. Image from "Musings of an Aspie"
Because I, as a disabled person, am not safe from wrong assumptions, stigma and hatred.

Belgium passed legislation that allows children of any age to be euthanized. Supporters say there are safeguards and protections that guarantee that only terminally ill children, suffering unbearable pain, and with parental consent would be granted the death at the hands of doctors.

To me, there are not enough guarantees.

It is a slippery slope. The child will probably hear this from the family before she even understands what is at stake:

*I* am tired of your suffering
*I* can’t bear to see you like this
*I* hope your pain ends soon
*I* wish I could put an end to this

It is about the parent (family) before it is about the child. It is about manipulation (even not so conscious manipulation). Children are vulnerable and immature, naturally. Change the situation where a sex predator manipulates a child into saying the “relationship” is consensual, and the idea of a child making such important decision would not be accepted as informed and mature.

The euthanasia slippery slope gets even more dangerous. It gets dangerous for people like me.

Disabled lives are not valued. When we are murdered, it is called “mercy” killing. In my country, there is legislation that calls for a national effort to “combat” me.

The Combating Autism Act is the result of lobbying from groups that never listen to Autistics, that call me a tragic destroyer of marriages, that affirm I suffer and am in pain, that say I will bankrupt the economy.

Some of these groups’ members like to post videos of their Autistic children in their most vulnerable moments. They post videos of their children having meltdowns as if this is the only thing the children do all day, every day; parents who talk about their children as if they are the enemy that invaded and controls the family life.

They want to combat autism by eliminating Autistics, by preventing Autistics, as if we are the enemy. They promote eugenics.

See why I fear euthanasia?

This specific legislation from Belgium allows euthanasia of a suffering child, with a terminal disease, who is in constant pain.

Autism is not an illness, but it is for life. So, yes we are going to die Autistic. Not from autism, but this detail seems to conveniently scape some people and organizations.

The Combating Autism Act treats autism as an illness and the legislation supporters say we are suffering and in pain. The Autistic child in America becomes the terminally ill and suffering child from Belgium.

Many of us cannot speak or lack a reliable method of communication, or a method that is understandable to the majority.

What happens in one part of the world influences people all over the world. When two dangerous legislations collide, my life is in danger, Autistic lives are in danger, disabled lives are in danger.

Stop combating children
Stop combating Autistic children
Stop combating Autistics
Stop combating us.
Stop combating me.

Tell Congress to Reform the Combatting Autism Act

– See more at:

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Judgement and Fear (#StopCombatingMe)

Every day involves a calculation. I walk in a world that sees me as broken, less than. Whether I like it or not, the world is more dangerous for me because I have a developmental disability. When the public discourse is full of words like combat and warrior, and the real results of that discourse is poverty, abuse, discrimination, and institutions, we need to be prepared for battle. It’s not that we’re hostile or unreasonably angry, but the consequences of letting down our guard is too high. So we armor up. We pile on the pieces of objective truth as dictated by an able world. We are quick to mention, repeatedly, our degrees and career accomplishments in a way that is often mistaken for bragging. Rarely is this a prideful act. It’s a Faustian bid rife with internalized ableism. I can show you my credentials, so that you will give weight to my thoughts. I can’t help but notice amongst my educated able friends, they often don’t even know what degrees if any their friends and coworkers have earned because they value each other’s thoughts without question. No cognitive litmus tests are prerequisite.

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Combat This

Images by Cynthia Kim





There.  Fixed it.

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Stop Combating 744

Read Cheetah-Chottah Press’ post here:

I’m here, I am weird. Get used to it. So I address myself by an unusual nickname that involves a number. I like numbers. Numbers have colors and personalities that I draw out in the form of cartoon animals, and I am so proud to share my unique experience with the entire world. I’ve been doing this before my autism diagnosis was revealed to me, and before knowing that I experienced synesthesia.

People strongly discouraged me from talking about numbers in public. My mother constantly reminded me that the other girls at school were going to think I was weird if I mentioned how much I adored 64. Michelle Winner’s Social Thinking emphasized modifying any “unexpected behaviors” that could potentially evoke weird thoughts from my peers, so the specialists agreed that my numbers were setting me up for ostracism. I was bullied incessantly for being myself, but nothing was a worse affront than adults telling me that I could have avoided it if I acted more “normal.”

When I was 12, I snooped onto a loose document that revealed my diagnosis. Knowing already that the word “autism” carried a stigma like the words “mentally ill” or “r****d,” I was mortified to find out that there was actually something “wrong with me.” I knew I was different, but I never thought that my way of thinking was an illness. Immediately after, I saw that the world wanted to exterminate people like me, when I read this bumper sticker:

Gee, I wonder why so many autistic people are reluctant to finding help, when there is so much negativity surrounding their condition. Believe it or not, I shook in panic when I googled “autism” and “aspergers” for the first time. I knew that most of the results would reek of ableism, but how was I supposed to have good self esteem without knowing what I was? And there I found a group of people whose thoughts echoed mine, when they expressed their disgust in organizations that wanted them to be “cured.”

Nine years later, I continue to stand with this group. It has become much larger and louder than it was in 2005. Just wait when the 2020s come along, and “00′s nostalgia” becomes commonplace. I will surely be “nostalgic” about the times when neurotypical parents and politicians all thought they knew what was best for us autistics!

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