Not well, deeply disturbed, maniacal, mentally ill, mentally unstable…..

These are just some of the insults and misrepresentations that people on the Autism Spectrum read in newspapers and on social media on an almost daily basis. A new group, Spectrum Labor, aims to change the talk on Autism with an online petition which they hope will inspire a federal Human Rights Inquiry into “fear based hate and contempt” towards Autistics.

Spectrum Labor co-founder and Autism blogger Philip Gluyas has been battling vilifications and misrepresentations of Autism for decades. His efforts have captured the attention of anti-Autistic trolls and conspiracy theorists, one of whom accused him of being “the next Adam Lanza” (referring to the mass murderer who shot 20 children and six staff in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the US).

Gluyas has taken them to court and won. Now he is determined to take these issues to the federal government and stop anti-Autistic put-downs once and for all. Gluyas, along with other Autistic Labor Party members, has launched an online petition against what Spectrum Labor considers to be “hate speech” against the Autistic minority.

“Autism is a natural way of being,” according to Gluyas. “It is no different to being of dark skin, preferring the non-platonic company of one’s own gender, or even just either male or female. And those who do not understand Autism, and treat it as something to hate or fear, are in fact doing more damage than they realise. As Yoda once said in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace; ‘Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.’ The Autistic community is suffering, and that suffering needs to stop.”

Spectrum Labor has also made submissions to the Victorian government’s Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections, the federal government’s Autism Inquiry and the Religious Discrimination Bills consultation process.

Spectrum Labor believes that the passage of the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bills would further encourage people like Indian Catholic priest Dominic Valanmanal, who compares Autistic children to “animals” and blames Autism on parents’ “adultery, masturbation, homosexuality” and “porn” (ABC News July 18, 2019). Valanmanal was due to visit Australia last September, to run a $400 retreat on Phillip Island, but thanks to the efforts of Binoy Zacharias, a member of Melbourne’s Indian Catholic community who has an Autistic teenage son, the visit was cancelled.

Another group Spectrum Labor is targeting is the anti-vaccine community. Antivaxxers hysterically insist, in the face of mountains of scientific proof to the contrary, that vaccines cause Autism. This claim ignores the genetic basis of Autism and has a base in fear creating anger – aimed at the pro-vaccine scientific community as well as Autism. The recent re-emergence of measles is a health threat to the whole community. Gluyas has been fighting these people directly but is aware that a wider approach is needed.

Spectrum Labor’s petition can be found at the Parliamentary website, and is linked on our petition page here on this website. It is only open until March 4, 2020.