Like canaries in mines of old, meeting our needs as disabled and neurodivergent individuals in turn ensures that everyone else is safe and has their needs met. As we consider reopening schools, the concerns I have about my disabled, autistic daughter’s needs being met at school are not only for her benefit, but also for the benefit of all of her abled and disabled, neurotypical and neurodivergent classmates as well as the staff at her school. So here are a few questions I think we need to answer collectively before we go back to school.
There is a concept within the Autistic Community called ‘masking’, but it applies to many people across many different diversity axes. That’s because masking is basically the work we do to try to blend in with those around us – to try to pretend that we are someone that we are not – less autistic, less queer, less disabled, less ADHD … less us. In particular, these ideas are often introduced or reinforced with behavioural methods such as ABA/IBI or conversion therapy.