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Why politics can be life or death for disabled people ….

(Note: I should have written and published this before the election, but I think it`s worth putting out now. One because the result is still not fully confirmed yet, but also because it will still be relevant for other elections, or just to help people get a sense of what is going on in this country.)

Some people are happy to let politics pass them by. They turn off the news and skim past links on Twitter, acting as if it has nothing to do with them. “Its boring” they say, or even worse they make the close to unforgivable statement that “None of it matters anyway”. It should be clear to anyone reading this how silly such a statement is, and I wish that I could just say “On their own heads be it” and leave them to their ignorance, but the truth is the consequences of such ignorance falls on all our heads. Politics underpins everything in life, so by all means if you have no interest in how much tax you pay, the cost of what you buy, the state and price of your healthcare, education, the emergency services, terrorism, poverty, civil and equal rights, crime, homelessness, war or the environment, then feel free to take no interest in politics.

But if you do care about any of those things then you already have a vested interest in politics. This means you can`t just sit back and ignore what’s going on in front of you in the political world. It means that you understand that what you see on the news will have an impact in your real life. There are some groups of people who can see, and feel this more than others.

If like me you are disabled/autistic, and have lived for the past seven years under the Conservative government, you won`t have been able to avoid seeing the devastating real-life impact of their policies. I could sit here and list the atrocities committed by this government, and the coalition before it – and perhaps I will do so in another blog – but for now I want to talk a bit more about what it feels like to watch the fight for number 10 unfold in front of your eyes knowing the very human cost that losing this fight could bring. I will touch on the destructive policies of the Conservative government, but if you want to know more I suggest following these links. ( https://www.theguardian.com/profile/frances-ryan

The Conservatives have launched a two-pronged attack on disabled people, both cutting our benefits, and also cutting the budgets of local services set up to help disabled people. There are people with mobility issues who have to drag themselves around on their own floors because they are no longer able to get carers to come in, and help them to care for themselves. Some people find themselves confined to their homes as they have their mobility benefits taken off them, or find that they are no longer entitled to the modified cars they depended on to get out and about. Disabled people who are unable to work are having their benefits cut to the point where they can no longer feed themselves, let alone pay for care. It`s not going too far to say that disabled people in England in 2017 are treated as less than human by their government.

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The welfare state is being butchered in front of our very eyes, and the cleaver falls first on those least able to defend themselves from its blows. There have been hundreds of suicides linked to cuts in benefits. Think about it; if you need X amount of money to live and you find that money cut, cut and cut again it`s not hard to see what the outcome is. You can`t pay for your care, you have to face the daily struggle of just trying to stay alive, only now you have the Conservative government blocking your attempts. It`s not hard to see how people are driven to, and past the point of giving up all hope. And its not as if disabled people are not speaking out about this. On the BBC`s Victoria Derbyshire show a disabled woman named Fiona confronted Dominic Raab M.P. about these very issues. She told him of people she knew who had been driven to the point of taking their own lives by the harsh cuts to disability benefits. Raab said it was childish. He was recently promoted to the roll of Justice Minister.

Fiona summed it up when she said “This election is life or death for us.” Disabled people don’t get to ignore politics any more, we don’t get the chance to pretend it does not impact on us. We can see the levels of humiliation, degradation and death caused by the Conservatives and their heartless, soulless, brutal brand of politics. We can`t just flick the T.V. off and stop thinking about this. We are watching the election, and its outcome knowing that if the Conservatives remain in power real people will die as a direct result of their actions. Some people will be watching events unfolding, knowing that the chances of them surviving five more years of life under the Conservatives are slim at best.

It must be nice to be able to exist in a state of blissful ignorance; a world where the savage reality of cuts to the most vulnerable, and the levels of suffering that they produce do not exist, or do not matter. But some of us can`t live in that state of ignorance. We know that the fight against the Conservatives goes far beyond a clash over political view points, and for some disabled people it is a fight for dignity, for the right to be treated like a human being, and for life itself.

You can find my new book here: http://www.jkp.com/uk/communicating-better-with-people-on-the-autism-spectrum-34251.html

If you need any help or advice abut Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS?ref=hl

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

 

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Autistic or a person with autism?

`A person cannot be defined by something they didn’t choose, such as the colour of their skin, or the fact that they have autism.  We can only be defined by our actions, the choices we make, and the way we choose to treat other sentient beings …. `

Jane – ASK-PERGERS? 2014

Blogs I`ve written in the past have already touched on the merits of the phrases `autistic` and `person with autism`, but after hearing several people talk about this recently, I feel that I need to talk about it again.  For me it seems absolutely bizarre that there even is a debate about these two phrases – if you can even call them that.  I didn’t realise until a couple of months ago that anyone found either of these terms offensive, but some people are apparently offended as they feel being called autistic defines their whole being as autistic, whereas being called a person with autism makes it clear that they are a person first, and someone with autism second.  If this is how you feel then I respect this, and I would be interested to hear why you feel like this, but below are some of the arguments I have thought of against it:

  • The natural use of language is to say that if somebody is diagnosed with something they are a variation of whatever that thing is, for example diabetic or asthmatic. I am not drawing parallels between these conditions, simply between the language used.  Each phrase seems to have its right place in properly structured, grammatically correct sentences.  You could either say this person has diabetes/autism, or this person is diabetic/autistic.
  • People say that it is labelling somebody to simply call them autistic – that they are more than just autistic – of course they are, but you don’t say that you can’t call somebody white because they are more than just a white person. Everybody is multiple things in life, and in reality if you have autism then you are autistic – so if you say you are a person with autism you are simply saying you are autistic in a longer, more roundabout way.  Of course if that is what you want to say, say it – there is nothing wrong with that.  But saying that the shorter version labels you as something you are not, and is somehow insulting, whereas the longer version is perfectly alright, seems very odd to me.
  • This brings me on to my next point – why is it so terrible to imply that somebody is autistic? It seems as if a lot of parents don’t want to use the phrase autistic because by saying that autism is just a part of their child, they can diminish how much autism affects their child`s life.  But autism affects every part of the autistic individual: how they feel, how they interact with others, how they see the world, and it always will for the rest of their life.  This doesn’t mean it`s the sole element of who they are, but it does mean that it’s something they shouldn’t feel ashamed about identifying with.
  • Most autistic people do not feel ashamed about using the word autistic – mostly it is professionals, or neuro-typical parents who argue it shouldn’t be used. With all due respect to them, they need to take a step back and let the people who actually matter in this issue speak – so autistic people can say what they want to be known as, but that should only be for personal preference.  As long as the majority of people aren’t offended by a phrase, and they are only using it to describe themselves, or people like them – such as I have autism, or I am autistic – then it should be ok.
  • This whole debate seems so trivial, but more than that, it divides a community that should be united. I have seen people with autism reduced to tears because they have been told off for calling themselves autistic.  I have seen people who agree on ninety nine percent of things, falling out simply because of how they refer to their children.  This is in a day, and age where whenever you go on-line you see new stories of autistic people being taken hundreds of miles away to substandard care units, the Government tearing away benefits from disabled people, and forcing them back in to work even if that`s an impossibility for them, and people being assaulted, abused, and even dying when in supposedly safe care facilities.  This really is a time when people in the autism community should be coming together to fight these battles.  It is not big, and it is not clever to tell someone with autism off for referring to themselves in a certain way.  And I think that if most people actually looked at the world around them they would see that there are more important things to be getting angry about.  You might as well stand there criticising a fire-fighter`s choice of hat as your house burns down.
  • The term autistic doesn’t actually imply anything other than you are talking about a person with autism. This notion that lot of parents like to throw around nowadays – that it is only a phrase used by people who define somebody solely based on their condition – is unfair.  and the fact that neuro-typical people have a go at autistic people for referring to themselves in a certain way is simply ridiculous.  I can understand if somebody with autism is offended by this for some reason, although I would ask them to think about it in a logical way.  I don’t use my condition to define myself, and yet I call myself autistic.  Autism isn’t who I am, but I am an autistic person.

I just want people to think sensibly about this whole subject.  The fact that people seem to have taken something so inconsequential, and pointless and turned it in to such a hot topic for the media, and such a controversial issue, is bizarre.  So much time is being wasted, and so many arguments fought over something that means absolutely nothing.   Yes your child is a person with autism, which by definition means they are autistic.  The kind of person who would define somebody based solely on a condition, will do so whatever terminology you use.  Trying to lessen the autism will do nothing other than stigmatise it even more.  Autism is not something to be ashamed of – some people do use the condition to define themselves, and that’s their choice.  Of course there is nothing wrong with saying I am a person with autism, just don’t have a go at somebody who says I am autistic.  And please, could we just concentrate on things that actually matter from now on?

My name is Paddy-Joe Moran. I am a 19 year old autistic author of two books, and co-founder of autism advice service ASK-PERGERS?If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out my free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS?ref=hl

Also to read more from me go to my blog https://askpergers.wordpress.com/

And have a look at my books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but I did co-write them trust me on that!) http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781843106227

http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781849052757