TLDR: Autistic people of colour often face additional barriers to accessing the autistic community. Autscape is a wonderful autistic community that gets together for a few days every year, but almost all the people who attend are white. We’d like to change that so we’re asking you to donate to help more autistic people of colour to attend Autscape this year.
Why are we doing this?
As a newly-diagnosed autistic woman, I was keen to join groups to learn from others. However, I was surprised to find that many of the main autism organisations did not have any support groups for autistic people of colour, and had no plans to start any as "we don't have any Autistics of colour". That didn't make sense to me - autism exists throughout humanity, not just white folk. I'm so happy that Autscape is offering Autistics of colour funding towards attending - it is an equitable action to help address the many additional barriers that black Autistics face - Laura B.
When I first went to Autscape it was mindblowing to see so many other autistic people all in one place. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it is to just spend time around people who truly accept you, where you don’t have to pretend to be like non-autistic people, you can be yourself, like really yourself and nobody there is going to judge you for that. It’s really the best thing for my mental health, I feel like it undoes some of the stigma and prejudice autistic people experience in society. I particularly love that I can take my kids with me, they’re both autistic and love it there as much as I do. It’s important to me that they get to spend time with lots of different autistic role models there. One thing has been bugging me about Autscape though, almost everyone who goes there is white. I’m not sure why that is, in every other respect it’s the most inclusive place I’ve ever been. I want to be part of an autistic community that welcomes everyone and since we don’t have many autistic people of colour coming I felt we needed to do something about this. - George W.
I would love for autscape to be a less white space. Autscape is one of the few spaces where I’ve felt comfortable not standing out because of my neurodivergence and queerness. It would be wonderful if I could feel like I’m not standing out so much in my non-white identity as well. - Sonny H.
So what is this Autscape thing?
Autscape is an annual three day conference run by autistic people for autistic people. It includes a wide range of talks, workshops, leisure activities and social opportunities all specifically oriented to the needs and preferences of autistic people. Many autistic people who have attended autscape and other autistic community events describe how amazing it is to spend time with other autistic people in an environment where there is true acceptance of autistic differences. You can find out more about Autscape here
What do we know about the inequalities autistic people of colour experience?
It is common for autistic people to be isolated from each other in day to day life. While there are thriving online communities, opportunities to spend time in person with other autistic people are still relatively rare. Autistic people of colour often face additional marginalisation and have even fewer opportunities to spend time with other autistic people.
Autistic people of colour must navigate both ableism and racism. Knowledge of autism within marginalised communities can vary, along with trust in medical professionals, both of which may make it harder for autistic people of colour to access diagnosis. Due to institutional racism, autistic people of colour face additional barriers to diagnostic assessments and have to work harder to be “believed” by medical professionals. These barriers mean that fewer autistic people of colour are diagnosed and it is harder for them to access appropriate support including the peer support and friendships enjoyed by many within autistic communities. Sadly, structural racism, which exists in all parts of society, also exists within autistic spaces. Autistic people, like others, might not have a good understanding of racism and so may not be aware of the need to make space for autistic people of colour.
We need to do better
The vast majority of people who have attended Autscape in the past are white. This is not ok. We need to change this, we need to enable more autistic people of colour to attend Autscape (and access other areas of the autistic community). If we do nothing we are allowing institutional racism to continue unchecked.
Ok so how does this work?
To do this we need your help. Obviously we are here asking you to donate money but this isn’t just about Autscape, this is far bigger. We also need you to donate your time to help us spread the word so that more people (especially white autistic people) recognise that systemic racism, including ignorance and insensitivity about these issues, makes autistic communities less accessible to autistic people of colour. In the future we want see more autistic people of colour submitting proposals to give presentations or running informal events such as discussion groups or workshops at Autscape. We want to encourage and support them to be able to do this. We want to have more conversations about racism and see more people asking what they can do to address this inequality in other communities.
We also want you to donate money if you can! Donations will be used to enable more autistic people of colour to attend this year’s Autscape. The more money we can raise the more people we will be able to support to attend autscape. You can also help us by sharing this widely, not only to raise money but also to help us reach more autistic people of colour who might like to apply for this funding.
Information for autistic people of colour who might be interested in applying for this funding
This year’s Autscape will be held at The Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire (please do not contact the venue directly) on 8-11 August 2022. If you are an autistic person of colour (this includes self-identified autistic people) who is interested in applying for funding to help you attend Autscape please see the application information page
for more info. If you have any questions and would like to get in touch you can reach us using the GoFundMe 'contact' button or the email address on the application information page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, please share widely and donate if you can!