June 26, 2020

Elijah McClain’s self-advocacy was the kind that I aspire to – clear, concise, and compassionate.

“That’s my house,” he told three police officers. “I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry… Ow, that really hurt.”

It wasn’t enough to save his life.

I have this fantasy that everyone would be kind and accommodating if only they understood one another better. But stories like this prove that explanations aren’t always enough.

It breaks my heart. It breaks my confidence in the ability to protect myself with words. It breaks my belief that awareness will certainly lead to acceptance.

My self-advocacy often focuses on similarities, to highlight our shared humanity. But that will fall flat unless we’re also willing to accept differences – to see beauty in diversity.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.