So I received news yesterday that Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, had died of pancreatic cancer.
At first, I didn’t know how to feel. Was I wrong in the inclination to harbor some anger toward her? Was I wrong to dislike her, to even speak ill of her in light of her recent death?
I’ve decided that I’m not. While I completely feel sad for those who loved her (her family and friends), this doesn’t erase the harm that she’s done or the choices she’s made in how she speaks about people like me.
She had a responsibility, as the leader of the most recognizable autism “charity”, to talk about us with dignity and respect. She did not do that. Instead, she used her voice and her resources to harm us. She went to the Vatican and talked about how terrible our parents’ lives are, while comparing herself to St. Francis.
She wrote a call to action, calling autistic people “missing”. She’s compared autism to cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS.
I’m sorry for her family but I’m not sorry she isn’t able to inflict harm anymore.
Also interesting to note is how much compassion fellow autistic folks have had toward her. So much for those ideas of “no theory of mind” and “no empathy”, hmm?
(I am aware that some autistic people don’t have empathy and that empathy can be a very flawed and useless concept, but stating that autistic people cannot have empathy is what I’m snarking about here)