10,000 to midnight: Spectrum 10k and the struggle to exist

Spectrum 10k has been part of a world for over a year at this point, and it’s existence has taught us a great deal about our place in wider society; something we may forget if we do not step outside of Autistic circles all that often.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists runs a blog which houses something known as the dooms day clock. This metaphorical clock counts down to midnight, with midnight being the point in time when society comes to an end. It has been edging closer and closer to that point over the last few year. At the time of writing, the clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight.

The Autistic community, similarly, is facing it’s own collapse, and yet we are not as worried as we should be. For me, Spectrum 10k represents the beginning of the end. This is a study that could be a turning point in both the push to remove Autistic people from the human gene pool, or it could be the moment when people realise that we have a right to exist, and we will fight for that.

Currently, all that stands between us and the turning of the tide is 10,000 samples of DNA. Those 10,000 samples have the power to undermine our existence in a way that we are not yet fully comprehending. I doubt if even the scientists conducting the study are aware of the ramifications of their work; if they were, they might well pick a narrative and stick to it.

Autistic people have struggled to exist in perpetuity. Not because we are Autistic, but because the society we live in is supported by a structure built from oppresive normativity, colonialism, and bigotry. We have to tear down these structures, not just at the surface where projects such as S10k exist, but also at the root, where the coneptualisation of our personhood is misshapen and grotesque. Autistic people are not some sideshow exhibit, we do not exist to shock and astound you. There is beauty in our existence.

So, again we take up our arms, and prepare to fight the rising waters of normativity manifest in eugenics. Again we fight for our right to exist. Again we fight to have a peaceful and fulfilled life.

Those malefactors for whom the eradication of difference is a priority, will come to regret the side of history that they have chosen. We have drawn our line in the sand, we have declared our right to this space. Now we must defend it.