“Do you think its strange
That there’s a way
Of how you look and how you act and how you think
Pretend they’re not the same as you.”
I’m dreading next month.
A profound dread that surrounds every April.
Next month is what most of the world calls “Autism Awareness Month”.
It’s a month of blue lights and puzzle pieces, and of many well-meaning Neurotypicals pouring money into Autism $peaks (for the reason for the dollar sign, check out their financials for 2013…the article goes into more detail than I have the spoons to…too much A$ stuff makes me want to light the world on fire), our worst enemy’s, coffers.
I’m already seeing businesses exploit this tide of “autism awareness” by giving percentages of certain products, like Home Depot blue lightbulbs, Skylanders, and Lindt, or randomly having partnerships like Gamestop and Blue Man Group (this is in addition to the 5,275,000 minimum [the total if every corporation paid the minimum of each level] they get every year from these corporations).
All of this money goes to an organization which spends only 4% on services to help us, 43% on ads like the vile I am Autism (for the antidote to this poison, check out the This is Autism Flash Blog for many actual autistic perspectives on our neurology) and most of their money on research on finding the cause (so they can prevent our existence) and finding a cure (something that many of us seriously wish people would stop trying to do, and start accepting us for who we are).
Autism awareness has failed us, so we call for acceptance.
Everybody is aware of our existence, we don’t need a month dedicated to it (Especially considering that “Awareness Months” aren’t ever for good things…according to this list of them, we share one with STI Awareness…and people wonder why autistics may have issues with the terminology).
Awareness is passive. Acceptance is a choice.
I didn’t choose to be autistic (though I wouldn’t choose anything else), neither did any others of my kin.
But you can choose to accept our humanity.
You can choose to accept us not as sufferers of autism, but as autistics, with minds that work in a different way that is just as valid as your own.
You can choose to recognize our weaknesses, but celebrate our strengths as well.
You can choose to not consider us “people with autism”, this thing that you feel you need to separate from us because it’s bad, but consider us “autistics”, recognizing that it’s something that shapes our strengths and our passions and all the positive things about who we are not something that would make us better if it was cast off.
You can choose to think of us as an Other, as different, or realize that we’re pretty similar and deserve the same recognition of our humanity.
You have the choice. Please make the right one.
One of the movements for Autism Acceptance Month against Light it up Blue is #Redinstead. They used to be Walk in Red, but they decided to make it inclusive of those of us who can’t walk…good choice, I think. If you want to donate to an organization which is autistic-run and is making a difference for us, check out the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, which is the main policy organization. Please spread awareness of the terribleness of Autism Speaks, there’s this of course, along with these ones:
And many others. They are the largest organization for autism, and that will only change if people stand as one against them. Thank you very much.