Autistic Perspective Series: Ableism
Ableism: A system of assigning value to people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression leads to people and society determining people’s value based on their culture, age, language, appearance, religion, birth or living place, “health/wellness”, and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, “excel” and “behave.” You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism. - working definition by Talila Lewis, January 2022
Neurotypical Privilege: The privilege of living in a world that is dominant and favors a specific neurology (neurotypical). Someone is neurotypical when they do not display atypical patterns/ behaviors and/or neurology.
Masking: Masking involves an autistic person making changes to their behavior to disguise autistic traits and seem more like their non-autistic peers. Another term used for this is camouflaging. Sometimes masking is a conscious choice at that moment. At other times, autistic people may not realize they are masking. For example, masking may become an automatic behavior in certain situations. - Emma Fox, the Autisphere
Remington Brown (he/him)
Remington Brown is a certified health coach with 6 years of experience. He has several certifications from different programs related to nutrition and health, including a certification from the University of Central Florida. He enjoys educating the public on healthy lifestyles and how to be the best version of themselves. He also holds a degree in Integrative Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he majored in Advocacy. He has engaged in many projects surrounding Self-Advocacy, Ableism, and Disability Justice over the years.
Michelle Neumann (they/them)
Michelle lives and works in North Carolina’s Triangle area, and was born and raised in North Dakota. Their work is rooted in yoga training, death doula practice, social work training, caregiving experience, meditation, and lived experience as a white, queer, disabled, neurodivergent, nonbinary person. Michelle has been studying privilege & oppression, death, and accessibility for sixteen years in both their personal and professional life.
Jackie Pilgrim (she/her)
Jackie Pilgrim is an Advocate for persons having Epilepsy, Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Mental Illness; Founder of Autism’s Love: The Pilgrimage, Public Speaker, Artist, Poet, Blogger and Parent to a young adult who challenges the stigma of having disabilities. Jackie is currently partnered with the Durham CIT Leadership Collaborative to increase Autism and Intellectual/ Developmental Disability awareness. In 2017, Jackie received an invitation to participate as a panel speaker at the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day Observation in NY, where she spoke on the importance of increasing autism awareness and education for Police Officers and First Responders. Jackie also serves on the Board of Directors for NAMI Durham (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the Mayor’s Committee for Disabled Persons and Jackie is a representative of the National Black Disability Coalition (NBDC) and serves on several committees. Jackie’s goals are to dismantle disability stigma and empower disabled individuals, family members, caregivers, and providers by increasing education and awareness of Autism, Intellectual Disabilities, and Mental Illness from the vantage point of lived experience.
Jenna Meehan (she/her)
Jenna (she/her) is an Autistic and ADHD occupational therapist that recently opened her neurodiversity-affirming private practice, BE ME Occupational Therapy, focusing on providing supportive, authentic, and validating OT to adults and children as well as consulting with organizations and businesses for improved community neurodiversity support and inclusion. She lives in Durham, NC with her neurodivergent children and partner.