Marc Rosen is the co-editor of the Perspectives series of poetry anthologies focused on the subjects of autistic, disabled, and neurodivergent culture. “To Autism Speaks” is one of the flagship poems of the first volume in the series, written in 2009 as a summation of most of the major grievances held by the majority of autistic people against the named organization, including, but not limited to, their blatant refusal to include autistic people on their board of directors and other decision-making entities (with one prior tokenistic exception whom they mostly ignored and/or mocked), their insistence upon starting from the base assumption that autism and autistic people are a burden/disease/problem which is best solved through utter eradication, their refusal to acknowledge that autistic adults exist despite the fact that autism itself has existed as a label in one form or another since the 1920’s, and their viral transmission of fear, paranoia, and discrimination in the name of “awareness.” Marc himself is autistic, and “suffers” with an incurable nausea every April 1st, ever since Autism Speaks decided to usurp it as “Autism Awareness Day” without consulting a single autistic person.
You say “We have to find a cure!”
A cure? for what?
Is it a cure for who I am?
Is it a cure for what I am?
Is it a cure for what I can be?
If not any of those, then what do you hate?
Is it because you hate my differences?
Is it because you hate that I’m not you?
Is my difference such a crime that it must be destroyed?
Better yet, can you tell me WHY?
Why do you hate me?
Why can’t I exist as I am?
Why do you have to “cure” my healthy mind?
Why do you have to treat me as inhuman?
Who are you trying to help?
Is it the fetus you screen out and abort for having the wrong genes?
Is it the child you yell at for being “wrong” in ways he’ll never understand?
Is it the adult you allow to die though your silence?
Is it the hole in your heart which you stain with your cruelty?
Do you blame a vaccine for my existence?
Am I some freak of science who has no right to exist?
Am I nothing more than the shadow of your own twisted heart?
Do I only exist to remind you that you can’t live your life through mine?
Do I hold any value to you other than as a symbol of all you hate?
Or is it just that you fear that you are one of my brethren?
That the very things you have spoken of as filth and disease,
Could actually hold purpose, value, and worth?
Would I then be nothing more than your horrifying fun-house mirror?
These questions I pose to you, oh all-knowing “normal” people
You say you speak for me, so why not give me some answers?
Previously published in Perspectives: Poetry Concerning Autism and Other Disabilities (anthology, published by Local Gems Poetry Press, 2010) http://www.lulu.com/shop/james-p-wagner-and-marc-rosen/perspectives/paperback/product-12430935.html and Monster of Fifty-Nine Moons and Other Poems ( (Marc Rosen, published by Local Gems Poetry Press, 2012) http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/marc-rosen/monster-of-fifty-nine-moons-and-other-poems/paperback/product-18901015.html