What Good Does Autism Awareness Do? It Doesn’t

"Autism Acceptance" " Moving forward, real information, inside information, real help. Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean.
How many times have you heard the expression “autism awareness” in this past month, even though it wasn’t April yet?

How many times do you think you will hear or read this expression, now that we are in the dreadful month of April?

 

Does hearing or reading “autism awareness” make you feel excited, ready to go out and buy blue light bulbs, t-shirts with puzzle pieces that say how mysterious Autistics are?

Do you go online looking for autism walks that will lead you in a circle to nowhere?

 

If you do, I have a few blunt words for you: wake up, you have been deceived!

 

If you have done this for a few years and still have not realized how you are enabling some organizations to inflict harm on us, here is some more bluntness for you: time for a soul search.

 

You are probably a parent of an Autistic person, maybe an educator, or a family member or friend hoping to support someone you love. Maybe the excitement of a “special event” to “open the eyes of the world” about autism has clouded your judgment.

 

The awareness talk is more like a “beware of autistics” warning. It is the sign that says: “Autistics will create havoc in your life”.

 

Autism Awareness means:

Fear Autistics

Pity Autistics

Avoid Autistics

Get rid of Autistics

 

But I wonder why some of you still do it. I wonder specifically why some of you still participate in Autism Speaks walks (“Walk Now for Autism”).

 

What happens in these walks?

– You donate money to an organization that berates and belittles the Autistics you love.

– You form teams with the name of the Autistic you love, the Autistic that the event organizers say is “tragic” and “lost”.

– You, and the other participants, gather to listen to celebrities and special guests list the “autism woes” – all this under very loud music. When an Autistic has a meltdown because of the loudness, the crowd and hurtful words, people wonder why. Really?

– To finish, everyone walks in a circle, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing, filling up the coffers of a hateful organization.

 

What has the awareness walk done for Autistics and their families? – Nothing.

The money raised will not come back to the community as services. It never does.

 

Maybe you also like to “light it up blue” and get all giggly with the sight of blue lights.

I don’t know why, maybe some neurotypicals are affected by the “blue light tickle”. To me it is a waste of money.

 

To date, no amount of blue lights were able to buy an assistive communication device for someone who does not speak.

No amount of blue lights has created a job for an Autistic who needs some accommodations to work

No amount of blue lights has translated into useful information.

 

If you still want Autism Awareness you are part of the problem. The world is so “aware” of us, it fears our existence. Is that what you want for your loved one?

 

Yes, I know, there are now more autistics diagnosed than ever before. The CDC says the number is 1 in 68. I believe it is more. African-Americans and Hispanic kids are less likely to receive a diagnosis. Girls are less likely to receive a diagnosis.

 

Some people are already collecting words to be thrown at us during the whole month of April: epidemic, tsunami, devastation.

 

To me, the world will be a much better place when the numbers are 1 in 2 – 1 Autistic or neurodivergent person for every two people.

 

Why?

 

– Because some Autistics already experience acceptance and they are thriving.

 

Families that practice acceptance and embrace neurodiversity are not fighting the Autistics they love, they are fighting for what will translate into success.

 

Walks should be about celebrating the lives of those we walk for. Autism Speaks walks raise money to make sure Autistics lives vanish from the world.

 

Meanwhile, Autistics are really helping the community, under the word ACCEPTANCE. Autistics helping Autistics (with the support of true allies).

 

We don’t walk in circles

We don’t raise money for executive pay

We don’t spread misleading information

We work for the community, with love and resolve.

 

Autistics are fighting the “blue” rhetoric with the “Tone it Down Taupe”  and giving assistive communication devices to Autistics who need it

 

Autistics are creating beautiful eye shadow make up  to help organizations that offer real services and helpful information. Organizations that are run by Autistics  and organizations that are really listening to Autistics .

 

Autistics are working in outreach programs, with legislators and legal experts, offering guidelines and Autistic leadership

 

Autistics are building libraries  that will have books written by Autistics or written by non-autistics who consulted with Autistics, and films portraying a positive image of Autistics.

 

Autistics are writing blogs, teaching in universities, making movies, writing books, tutoring, offering help , being joined by non-autistic allies  to spread positivity (PosAutive), social justice , acceptance and respect for all Autistics.

 

Autistics are joining organizations    that understand that, when talking about autism, if not all, at least the majority of its Board of Directors must be Autistic.

 

You can choose awareness, you can feel “blue” and throw your money in the pockets of hateful and powerful people that might offer help, but instead deliver sorrow, or you can move forward, not in circles, knowing that your money will be used to really help someone and build a more accepting world for the future generation of Autistics

 

You can choose to be aware of autism and beware of Autistics, or you can choose acceptance and opportunity for all Autistics.

 

I say that with the authority of an Autistic that Autism Speaks would love to use as a poster child for their “tragedy” message. To Autism Speaks I am a tragedy, I am lost and I am going to make the lives of people around me very difficult and devastating.

 

I refuse their depiction of who they say I am.

They ignore me because my life and my words debunk all their claims. They do not respect me, they are too “aware” of me

 

How about you? Are you going to choose to be “aware” of Autistics?

 

Awareness is not respect.

Awareness does not help.

Awareness is walking in circles, always ending where you started.

 

Acceptance.

Moving forward, real information, inside information, real help.

 

Which one are you going to choose?

Image description black and white photograph of woman with short dark brown hair. She is smiling. Dark grey text reads:Amy Sequenzia Passionate Autistic activist, writer, and poet . Read more from Amy on Ollibean and visit nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com .

About the Author:

Amy Sequenzia is a non-speaking Autistic, multiply disabled activist and writer. Amy writes about disability rights, civil rights and human rights. She also writes poetry. Amy has presented in several conferences in the US and abroad, and her work is featured in books about being Autistic and Disabled. Amy is deeply involved with the Neurodiversity Movement and has been outspoken about the rights and worthy of disabled people. Amy serves on the Board of Directors of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST). http://nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com and Autism Women’s Network. You can also follow Amy on Twitter at @AmySequenzia.

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  1. […] Acceptance says: Here is a list of things your child might do differently. Since Autistic brains process things differently, the best approach is to listen to, and observe the child, making necessary accommodations for her to achieve full potential. […]

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