Definitions
Autism and Emancipated Autism
An Autist is an individual occupying the broad range of neurological diversity known as Autism. I usually capitalize both words to indicate a subcultural identity. Similarly, Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Deaf, Black, and Intersex are, to varying degrees, capitalized.

There are numerous examples of dominated populations co-opting or appropriating disparaging terms from bigots and redefining them. As many people in the GSD (gender and sexual diversity) community have reclaimed the historically derogatory word “Queer,” some emotionally disabled people have taken ownership of the word “Mad.” The term “Quakers,” too, was once a perjorative.

Although I did not originate the idea, I see no reason why Autists should not join the club. In my opinion, Autists should, like representatives of the other categories I mentioned, reclaim and own “Autism” and “Autist” for the Autistic community.

As a matter of individual preference, Autist, as a noun, strikes me as more personal. Autistic sounds like an action performed on me. Furthermore, although Autism has been divided into different categories, the emerging consensus is to regard it as a single multidimensional spectrum.

Popular stereotypes frequently portray Autists as being entirely, or mostly, helpless and unable to express their wants and needs. To the contracy, the majority of Autists can, given appropriate supports, lead happy, fulfilling, and productive lives.

As English poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island ....” There are no independent human beings. The quest for personal liberty or freedom, which is so common in the online Autistic community, leads only to further social isolation and alienation. In the end, focusing primarily, or exclusively, on oneʼs personal freedom is narcissistic.

Usually, I love being an Autist. However, by discovering the Unities of All Things, I became, I feel, an “Emancipated Autist” (my term). After a lifetime of struggling for emancipation, I can now, by God’s grace, experience empathy and connectedness (Roy Bhaskar’s “copresence” ).

Informally, I have defined Emancipated Autism™ as including individuals who:

  1. were diagnosed, at sometime over their life course, with Autism spectrum disorder.
  2. have discovered unity, empathy, or connectedness (emancipation) through spiritual experience.

I have written an autobiography, Discovering Emancipated Autism, and I operate three Autism-related websites:

  1. The Emancipated Autism Project is devoted to meditation, social consciousness, and liberation.
  2. Emancipated Autism Services is a business venture focused on mentoring Autistic adults and on public speaking.
  3. An Emancipated Autist is my own Autistic activist website. It includes a blog.
Copyright © 2009- Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.