I am grateful to an online colleague for mentioning this diagram. It shows different levels of attitudes to a group. How much that group of people is really included, really empowered, really respected and trusted.
These are some possible thoughts about it all, just to help others to start with the thinking.
At the bottom of the 'ladder', manipulation. Where the people with power decide that autistic people must simply be lied to, to get us to do things that they want. Or, lied about, to get others to ignore, exclude or fear us. We're actively distrusted.
Next up, just therapy. Not any actual consent or sharing. Not good therapy. The sort of therapy where the people with power decide we are broken, and need fixing. So they make us do therapy whether we consent or not, whether it is good for us or not. No matter how much we express pain, fear or exhaustion.
Next, just informing autistic people. We are not part of the decisions. The people with power make the decisions, then tell us what those are. This is not sharing, or respect, or inclusion.
Next, just consulting us in problematic ways. (Not good consultations with trusted partners.) We do not decide what we're being consulted on. We're not the people who make the final decisions. We are invited to a room and asked questions and the data is collected. Then we are sent on our way. The report is not written with us. We are not put in front of the powerful decision makers. Quite often, the 'consultation' reports are shredded and the powerful people do what they like anyway. But they can tick a box saying they 'consulted'.
Next, placation. When autistic people raise concerns about something, someone says sorry. Someone promises it will change. An actual start to someone stepping away from their position of power to say something with some humility. But...is it? Or do they do the exact same thing again, having said sorry? If so, that was manipulation, not placation.
Now we're into the bits where autistic people are starting to be respected. Partnership. We work with organisations, as part of their team. Not a powerful part, not a part with the final responsibility, but a part. A volunteer on the team, named and visible, perhaps. Maybe even paid a small amount (not as much as other people who aren't autistic, normally). Enabled in a supportive way, with leaders speaking firmly about respectful behaviour around us.
Then, the next level - delegated power. We are given Actual Responsibilities. Not top power, but we're allowed to decide on things, given proper status alongside other junior managers or leaders. Paid properly. Enabled properly. Respected. Not put into situations where others are allowed to undermine us, and then those with real power say, "Well that just goes to show we shouldn't have any more autistic people working with us, eh?". That's not delegated power. That's manipulation.
Then, the top level, proper management power, proper leadership roles. Fully paid or responsible, fully empowered, fully able to hire, fire, make really huge decisions with others. Fully trusted, fully enabled, fully respected.
Where, on this list, is the group or organisation you're thinking about?
Where is a person you deal with, on this list?
Where are you, on this list, when you encounter an autistic person?
It's a good list to think about, I find.