Testimony (adult male with an ASD diagnosis): “The life of an autistic person has many nuances. From the moment we are born we already have a problem with this real world (real, cruel and inhuman); first of all, we don’t talk to others, we feel loneliness in our relationship with the environment. Then there is the lack of understanding, the way we are seen as people who do not fit into a society that only makes us machines for consumerism (buying, producing). We autistic people have been considered for a long time as people who cannot fit in, because we are people who go inwards, who try in every possible way to show that we are capable of doing, at our speed of understanding, to understand the environment in which we relate, i.e., in the ambit of our feelings, in the professional ambit (if we can remove it, most of us cannot do that).
When we are spoken to, we feel attacked and offended because the non T.E.A. feel that we have to be like them.
Sometimes, depending on the level we have autism, i.e., level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4, is how we move. In level 1, we have reasoning but, when we relate to other people, we have feelings of fear or distrust and it is difficult for us to develop empathy. According to some people we can be seen as aggressive, when we think we are right, we fight to prove our perspective.
Normally a person with A.E.D. may have greater difficulty in learning certain types of content in their study process, e.g., mathematics, chemistry; but, if a person is passionate about history or some other subject, they will easily achieve an excellent rank in that subject.
If a person is diagnosed early as having A.E.D., he/she may be able to adapt well to the everyday world, on the contrary, if he/she is diagnosed late it will be much more difficult for him/her to adapt.
On the other hand, if the treatments are too invasive for the person, that person will leave psychotropic medicine, because the system nowadays has the tendency to increase medication to such a degree that it over-medicates them, resulting in zombie-like behaviour. In today’s society we are not useful, we are rubbish and this treatment bothers us because we are thinking and acting people.
In our romantic relationships we give everything, that is to say, we love from the heart, although we demand too much from the loved one, because we do not trust much in reciprocity.
When we enter into a state of conflict, or we cannot act in our own way, we close ourselves off, but we feel, like all of you, sorrow, joy, frustration, the desire to be loved, to be recognised by society and we feel discriminated against, because an ASD, I repeat, we are seen as the odd ones out”.
The United Nations sets topics on the subject.
It is estimated that around one percent of the world’s population – some 70 million people – are on the autistic spectrum. “As part of human diversity, autistic people should be accepted, celebrated and respected. However, discrimination against autistic children and adults is more the rule than the exception”.
Autistic people are particularly exposed to professional approaches and medical practices that are unacceptable from a human rights perspective.
Such practices, often justified as treatment or protective measures, violate their basic rights, undermine their dignity and go against scientific evidence.
“Autistic children and adults face a proliferation of medicalised approaches that rely on over-prescription of psychotropic medication, placement in psychiatric hospitals and long-term care institutions, the use of physical or chemical restraints, electro-convulsive therapy, etc. This can be particularly damaging and reduce the ability of autistic children and adults to cope with their condition. This can be particularly damaging and slow the deterioration of their condition. Too often, moreover, these practices amount to ill-treatment or torture.
Autistic people must be respected, accepted and valued in our societies, and this can only be achieved by respecting, protecting and realising their fundamental rights and freedoms”.
In Chile, people with ASD denounce physical and psychological mistreatment in former SENAME facilities, as well as erroneous medical diagnoses, which result in psychotropic over-medication, which overrides their emotional responses to the point of losing their progress and efforts in adapting to daily activities.
What does the new ASD Law, passed by the Chilean Congress, consist of?
Ensuring the right to equal opportunities and safeguarding the social inclusion of children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder, eliminating any form of discrimination; promoting a comprehensive approach to these people in the social, health and education ambits; and raising awareness in society about this issue, are some of the main contents of the recently passed Framework Law for the protection and integration of people with autism spectrum disorder.
“People with autism spectrum disorder have the right to health care relevant to their needs, from a human rights perspective, in accordance with current legislation, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and international treaties signed by the country on the subject and which are in force,” said Senator Yasna Provoste, president of the united bodies, while advocating for the prompt enactment of the legal text and inclusion in the GES.
It establishes definitions of concepts such as, for example, a person with ASD. This will be understood as those who present a difference or diversity in typical neurodevelopment.
It recognises the existence of caregivers for those with ASD.
New principles are established to which compliance with this law must be subject: dignified treatment, progressive autonomy, gender perspective; intersectoriality, participation and social dialogue; early detection and continuous monitoring and neurodiversity.
It contemplates measures against arbitrary discrimination. The State shall also adopt the necessary measures to prevent and condemn violence, abuse and discrimination against such persons.
It determines the duties of the State to ensure personal development, independent living, autonomy and equal opportunities for persons with ASD. To ensure the full enjoyment and exercise of their rights on equal terms with the rest of society.
We welcome the progress made with this law and hope that it has the funding and staff to ensure its full implementation. Chilean society needs to overcome discrimination and move forward in valuing diversity, so that we can look at ourselves with joy as we develop on the really important issues.
Collaborators: César Anguita Sanhueza; M. Angélica Alvear Montecinos; Guillermo Garcés Parada and Sandra Arriola Oporto. Political Opinion Commission