Saturday, October 03, 2009

Autistic people are persons: An anniversary

The statement that "autistic people are persons" is part of the 2008 decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in Dawson vs Canada Post Corporation. Today, this decision is one year old. Here is the relevant excerpt:

[133] This said, there is no doubt for the Tribunal that autistic people are persons, that unfortunately they are not well accepted in society, that they are looked at often times as special creatures who are not part of society as a whole and that society would be better off without them. The Tribunal is further of the view that autistic people need to be better respected and protected in society. They need above all to be better understood and accepted. [...]

[134] Hence, the Tribunal is of the view that the Canadian Human Rights Act provides to autistic people the same protection as to non autistic people and that both are equal before and under the law.
These statements are contrary to existing Canadian jurisprudence. In ABA-related litigation, autism advocates have used Canada's major human rights laws, including our highest law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to deny the humanity, personhood, equality and human rights of most autistics in Canada.

This wholesale denial and dehumanization is exemplified in the Auton and Wynberg trial decisions. These two decisions have been universally revered and promoted by autism advocates, as representing what autistics deserve.

Autism advocates also universally opposed my intervention in Auton, which sought to inform the Supreme Court of Canada that, contrary to the positions of both sides, autistics are human beings with human rights, and this status should not be denied to most autistics in Canada.

By "most autistics," I mean those of us, the majority of autistics in Canada, who have not received unlimited ABA-based interventions starting early in life.

To my knowledge, the CHRT decision in my case is unprecedented in Canada, in recognizing the personhood, humanity, equality, and human rights of autistics--regardless of which interventions we have or have not received at any point in our lives. More about the CHRT decision, including its serious problems, can be found here, and some background is here.

The CHRT decision was not appealed by Canada Post. It has also been cited in another case, this time decided in Federal Court, involving an autistic and Canada Post. Here is an example of how my case was cited, from paragraph 79:

The Dawson case above, specifically is critical of rigid corporate rules that preclude true inclusiveness of those with disabilities such as the applicants.
The decision in my case was helpful in giving another autistic person the chance to pursue, if she wishes, a human rights case based on Canada Post's decision not to hire her. And the Federal Court decision in turn includes language which may further help other autistics seeking to be regarded and treated as human beings with human rights.

Autistic people are persons--happy anniversary.