- I will live life on my own terms, not according to societal expectations.
- I will not settle for less just because I’m Autistic.
- I demand to be presumed competent.
- I will question and reject ableist beliefs and attitudes.
- My worth does not depend on:
- How well I mask.
- How independent I am.
- How gifted or intelligent I am.
- How productive I am.
- How useful I am to society.
- How inspirational I am to neurotypicals.
- I will honour my limits.
- I will not apologise for needing accommodations.
- I will not force myself to do anything that makes me uncomfortable, even if it seems rude to others.
- I will not sacrifice my well-being just to make others comfortable.
- I will love and accept myself exactly the way I am.
I wrote this manifesto in 2016, after quitting a job I was placed in by a job training programme from an autism organisation.
A family friend suggested to my parents that I should join this programme because he didn’t think I had the appropriate social skills for the working world. So I joined shortly after I graduated.
When I told the people from the programme that I wanted to be a graphic designer, they told me to forget about that dream (they weren’t the only ones; growing up, several people told me that I wouldn’t be able to work as a graphic designer because of my disabilities).
The programme placed me in an office clerk job (it was either that or a cleaning job) and I was miserable for the two years I worked there.
There were job coaches from the programme watching us all day, and if we did anything “inappropriate” or “weird”, they would have a talk with us.
It was a stifling environment. I felt like I couldn’t relax and had to be on my best behaviour at all times.
I also had to put up with lots of ableist and infantilising BS in the programme. (They’d talk to me as if I were a child, they’d ask my parents to make decisions for me…)
It took a toll and I eventually had Autistic burnout.
My self-esteem was fucked after I quit. So I started writing this manifesto to articulate what I was no longer willing to accept, and to remind myself of my inherent self-worth.
It took a long time, but things got better. I got lucky and found a job (as a graphic designer!) where people accept me in all my quirky glory.
I’m now sharing this manifesto for anyone who needs it. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me!
Or you could try writing your own manifesto! Feel free to steal whatever you like from my manifesto and add your own points. 📜🖋️
Free printable PDFs of this manifesto are also available:
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