Image description: A picture with three stick figures on each side reaching out to each other on cliffs on opposite sides, one side on the left labeled, “Allies,” with the other right side labeled, “Autistic community.” The top black text reads, “Bridging the gap,” the bottom black text reads, “for disability justice,” with the neurodiversity symbol inside the gap between the two cliffs.
Over the last few months, I have seen attempts from autistic people, including prominent advocates who reach out and “bridge the gap” with people who may not otherwise have found out about or been involved in the autistic community, or who we would usually advocate or fight against. Last year, Haley Moss, an openly autistic lawyer from Florida, made a post announcing she had participated in a podcast with Autism Speaks in efforts to “build a bridge” with the group “for the betterment of the autistic and disability communities.” Becca Lory Hector, an autistic advocate, participated in an interview to “bridge the gap” in early 2020 with a neurotypical person who has studied ABA in college and calls themselves an “autism expert,” even when they are not autistic themselves. There is currently a group on Facebook centered on ABA Reform, and building bridges between autistic people and ABA therapists to “improve” the field for autistic people. And yesterday, The Neurodiverse Woman made a Facebook post about “cancel culture” in the autistic community and using “ridiculous neurotypical standards” and “intolerance” for people who are new to the autistic community. So, when should we decide to “bridge the gap” with others to improve our advocacy efforts? Who can we trust? And more importantly, who shouldn’t we trust?