Enough with all the “talk”

So, coming up is International Day of People With Disabilities. And for me it’s also my 50th Birthday.

Here’s a list of gifts that would be nice:

  1. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  2. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  3. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  4. The above on repeat until people start recognising that communication is multi layered, not just dependent on speech.

I sit on the more socially acceptable side of this, being hyperverbal, but I do experience shut down and need more silence and then I am interpreted as rude when I go quiet for days at a stretch. I struggle with tone and pitch, I speak too fast and I get word order “wrong” (whatever that means). Modifying this is exhausting, not just metaphorically, but physically exhausting.

Most of my meltdowns are related to not getting enough solitude away from people asking me to speak – plus related to the hyperacusis and sensory processing pressures I experience. It’s still hard work for me to speak in a “socially acceptable way”.

It literally takes 10x more effort for me to public speak, because I am constantly modifying how I speak for a neurotypical audience, as a matter of survival in the arts world. Then people will still find a problem with it – and frankly I don’t care if they do.

I won’t mask for you, pretending to be neurotypical is harmful to me. I will try out new things that feel comfortable and I think I’ll sing more (because it feels better than this cultural obsession with punchline comedy). But I won’t mask for you.

And if it’s considered inappropriate, well isn’t everyone at some point? All this focus on speech assumes there is some standard way to communicate.

Speech is not superior to any other form of communication. And perfect speech or perfect non-speech doesn’t exist.

#IDPWD #autism #speech #communication