Federal policymaking can seem out of reach for a lot of autistic people, but the road to a political career is not as hard as it seems. There is a clear path from intern to policymaker. For this reason, internship classes should be as diverse as America itself. It is also important that internship classes include autistic people. No matter how much a non-autistic person studies or tries they cannot know what it is like to be actually autistic. Right now, federal policymaking is missing the autistic voice. If more autistic people work as interns, then someday we will have more autistic policymakers on Capitol Hill.
Most congressional staffers started as interns. They did not need a lot of experience or education to leap from intern to congressional staffer. It only took them a few years to make that leap. The most important thing a person needs to build a career on Capitol Hill is determination. Autistic people are some of the most determined people out there. We should be using congressional internship programs to make our mark on Capitol Hill.
Only actually autistic people know how much extra work it takes to exist in a world that is not accessible to them. People think that if an autistic person has a career that it means that their autism does not affect them. This is not true. Successful autistic people are people who overcame a lot of challenges to achieve their dreams. These people still deal with sensory overload, meltdowns, have social difficulties and live with other challenges related to their autism. Successful autistic people found a way to live in a world that did not create space for them. Not everyone can do this. Many times, only the most privileged autistic people have the chance to make their mark on the world. To change this, autistic people need to work where the rules are made. It may be more difficult for us to work in places that were not made with our needs in mind, but it is necessary to make the world a more accessible place.
The path from intern to policymaker is difficult, but it is worth it. Autistic people influence congressional staffers just by working with them. These staffers see us for who we are and not the stereotypes we are known for. Imagine the difference we could make if we got to write laws for our country. It is not as out of reach as it seems. The opportunity to prove people wrong is the essence of the American dream. We are bright and determined people who have what it takes to write federal laws. There is a well-worn path to doing this so let us take it.