The future of Tumblr’s thriving Autistic community is in jeopardy. This is a recap of nearly a decade of organically Autistic-led culture and advocacy.

Tum­blr, the quirky, con­tro­ver­sial, noto­ri­ous­ly unprof­itable social media plat­form, may final­ly dis­ap­pear. Verizon’s deci­sion to clear the site of adult con­tent has gone over bad­ly with users, in part because Tum­blr has always housed sig­nif­i­cant amounts of adult con­tent, in part because hap­haz­ard enforce­ment of the new rule has affect­ed SFW blogs. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of users have already decid­ed to leave. It is pos­si­ble, though by no means cer­tain, that Tum­blr could sur­vive with­out peo­ple who use Tum­blr as a source of adult con­tent, but many believe the depar­ture of fan­doms is a fatal blow to the social net­work…

It’s important that Autistic people spend time together just for fun.

There are unique joys to gath­er­ing with oth­er Autis­tic peo­ple in a set­ting that isn’t run by neu­rotyp­i­cals and isn’t designed with change, improve­ment, or growth in mind. Autis­tic chil­dren, youth, and adults who have only ever encoun­tered oth­er Autis­tic peo­ple in sup­port groups, social skills train­ing, or sim­i­lar set­tings are miss­ing out on friend­ship, a greater sense of self-deter­mi­na­tion, knowl­edge of com­mu­ni­ty norms, and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to divorce the idea of gain­ing real, func­tion­al social skills from that of try­ing to be indis­tin­guish­able from neu­rotyp­i­cals. …

You don’t have to have opinions in public until you’re ready.

Find­ing the Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty is an expe­ri­ence like no oth­er, espe­cial­ly for adults who grew up unaware of autism or unaware of peo­ple like them­selves in orga­nized groups. The strong emo­tions of home­com­ing, belong­ing or ner­vous­ness about find­ing a place to belong, pride in a new iden­ti­ty, and joy of a cama­raderie per­haps nev­er before known can be intox­i­cat­ing. The num­ber of peo­ple to meet and amount of infor­ma­tion to absorb seem infi­nite, impos­si­ble. It’s as over­whelm­ing as it would be to stum­ble through a moun­tain pass on a hike and find a lost home­land in the hid­den val­ley below.

We can help each other best when we’re informed.

Please take the time to learn some­thing about dis­abil­i­ty in 2018. There is no rea­son to think 2018 will be any less chal­leng­ing for the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty in the U.S. than 2017 was. The things that made 2017 so dif­fi­cult are large­ly unchanged. For that rea­son, it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er how to pro­tect the inter­ests of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties when prob­lems arise in the new year. One small step almost any­one can take is becom­ing more informed in 2018.

It seems para­dox­i­cal to say that pan-dis­abil­i­ty advo­ca­cy efforts have the best track record of fur­ther­ing dis­abil­i­ty rights and dis­abil­i­ty jus­tice…

The end of net neutrality would mean a weaker, less diverse, less effective Autistic community.

It is dif­fi­cult to keep up with even major devel­op­ments in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and pol­i­cy today. It can be easy to lose sight of appar­ent­ly small changes. One essen­tial thing to keep up with in the coming days and weeks is the like­ly demise of net neu­tral­i­ty. This is a grave threat to the kind of Autis­tic com­mu­ni­ty most of us consider worth hav­ing. The pos­si­ble short-term impact on the best sites cater­ing to us could be extreme­ly damaging. The long-term impli­ca­tions, while more insid­i­ous and hard­er to pre­dict, may be far worse. …

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The Urgency of Disaster Planning

The Caribbean suf­fered ter­ri­bly, but Flori­da escaped the worst of Hur­ri­cane Irma. Still, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple there weren’t safe. Nine nurs­ing home res­i­dents in Hol­ly­wood Hills, Flori­da suc­cumbed to the heat when their facil­i­ty lost pow­er. These extreme­ly vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties lost what­ev­er time was left to them, what­ev­er liv­ing there might have been. It seems like­ly that there will be pun­ish­ment or com­pen­sa­tion, but it’s impos­si­ble to return what was lost. The most trag­ic part of the whole sit­u­a­tion may be that the dead weren’t killed by the storm through flood­ing, wind, or the col­lapse of a build­ing. They…

How to Think About When to Use Your Story

Some of the most painful situations new activists get into revolve around stories. What seems like the chance to do good can end in embarrassment Even if the portrayal, the content or media that comes out of sharing a story, is ultimately respectful, third parties may still project their own prejudices on it. Personal stories told in dignified ways can be used in undignified ways. There is also the storytelling trap: it can feel more useful than it actually is. …

Be like GoDaddy.

We have an extremism problem. If you hadn’t noticed or weren’t convinced, the act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a white supremacist on peaceful protesters last weekend should have fixed that. The damage is done, but we may be able to prevent more. Former President Obama’s widely-retweeted statement that no one is born a bigot is right. Bigotry is learned. We know, because we’ve watched it happen, that plenty of radicalization connected to the Alt-Right and other awful groups has happened online. If you control any part of the internet, big or small, it’s your job to help stop that.

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A handcuff comes off of one of a person’s outstretched hands

What We Want Comes With Responsibility

Autistic people widely agree that we’re better-equipped to solve our problems than anyone else. Given a say in what science gets funded and what the organizations with the biggest budgets do, we believe, we could tackle many of the most serious problems facing our community. We demand our place in establishing the disability policy agenda, insisting that primarily parent-run organizations should not make every decision about which issues take priority. Unfortunately, our behavior doesn’t always match this stated position. …

Have you fought for the living today?

Tonight, people will gather around the world to mourn persons with disabilities killed by their caregivers. Some have loved ones who also remember and miss them. Many were kept so isolated by those who would eventually murder them that they were largely strangers to the world. Their memories are little more than names we read at vigils because they were ours, though we did not know them, and maybe an old school picture online. It’s good that we remember them. We wouldn’t be people, much less a people, if we didn’t remember our dead. …

R. Larkin Taylor-Parker

Lawyer. Internet dweller. Tuba player. Opinions are mine. Please don’t blame other people for them.

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