Loud Hands Project

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I will not silence my hands. My hands speak a language that is louder and stronger and clearer than my words. To quiet my hands is to take away my voice. My hands are loud and proud.

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(image description:  caucasian hands, touching at the wrists, fingers pointing upward, against a black background).

The Loud Hands Project is a multi-media project by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, national in the United States.  Autistic adults and teens have uploaded art, video, writing, etc, to the Facebook page and Tumblr, as well as contributed short essays to the anthology “Loud Hands:  Autistic People, Speaking”, on what autism and advocacy are like for them.

It is one of the first projects of its kind in which autistic people speak for ourselves, rather than professionals or parents speaking about us from research or observation.

It is a myth that autistic people have nothing to say.

Many autistic people are actually very verbal, whether in spoken language, writing, or both.  Others like myself struggle with words (either all the time or just on especially bad days or complicated social situations), but speak plenty in other ways….

We speak volumes through our hands.

We speak through our bodies, our faces, our art, our tone of voice, our sounds, our actions.

The problem is not that we don’t know how to speak.  The problem is that many “typical” people refuse to listen to anything BUT words, and even then, perhaps only to certain uses of words.  Echolalia for instance (repeating the words of others), is often looked at as meaningless babble, but the words of others can be mixed together in such a way as to create meaningful and original messages.  I am not echolalic myself, but in my experience with others, a lot of echolalia is poetic.

“Loud Hands” is a play on the old ABA (applied behavioral analysis – behavioral social training for autism) phrase “quiet hands”.  “Stimming”, self-stimulation and self-soothing behaviors of autistic people including hand-flapping, hand-waving, fidgeting, and touching objects such as running a hand along a wall as one walks down a hallway, are discouraged in ABA. This is despite that stims are actually very helpful and often necessary to autistic people as a coping skill.  They are discouraged not because they are dangerous, but because they are considered “socially inappropriate” (not following social norms).  In other words, they are only discouraged because they look “weird” to non-autistic people, not because they harm anyone in any way.

Fuck that.  Fuck the concept of “social norms” overall.  I will not silence my hands.  I will not be silenced.

Loud Hands Project Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Loud-Hands-Project/111548155631555/

Loud Hands Project Tumblr:  http://loudhandsproject.org/

“Loud Hands:  Autistic People, Speaking” the book:  http://www.amazon.com/Loud-Hands-Autistic-People-Speaking/dp/1938800028

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