It is April again. The month when Autistic anxiety increase is directly proportional to the “autism awareness” marketing strategy.
I am not being hyperbolic or snarky.
In April, sales of blue lights and puzzle pieces, appointments with therapists that promise to make Autistics “better”, interviews with celebrities that “support autism”, the parade of “experts” on our TV’s, views of articles – in newspapers, magazines and websites – about us (always without us) and about our “deficits”, increase.
All this comes attached with the Autism Awareness Month reminder.
All this also brings the stigma, the fear mongering, the bias, the pity porn, the hate towards Autistics.
All this elevates the voices of non-autistic parents (often times martyred parents) and professionals, while silencing our voices.
Our anxiety increases, we use most of our energy to send this simple
message: “we are here, we are human, listen to us”.
It is extra draining in April because “awareness” is so loud and scary, we need a lot more strength. The organizations that raise money by using fear of our neurology, double down on the hateful rhetoric. It stings harder, it cuts deeper, it hurts more.
Awareness says: Here is your child. Unfortunately this is a defective child.
Maybe, if you work with this kid hard enough, you will be able to have at least a tiny taste of the joys of parenthood. You will need a lot of money. I am sorry for you. Good luck, don’t expect too much.
Acceptance says: Here is your child! Congratulations!
Awareness says: This is the list of all of your child’s deficits. Good luck, I am so sorry.
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.
Awareness says: Your child cannot understand human feelings. Your non-verbal child will never say “I love you”
Acceptance says: Your child processes feelings in a way that might seem odd, but the feelings are real. The love received will come back, sometimes in a non-speaking way.
Awareness says: Correct those behaviors! Fix this mess! Acceptance says: Behavior is communication. Understand and respect.
Awareness says: Don’t trust the adults who “have autism”. They are too “high-functioning” to understanding the heartbreaking struggles of “real” autism.
Acceptance says: Everyone struggles. Seek your community/your child’s
community for input.
Awareness says: Those “low-functioning” people “with autism” cause too much pain. Burdens! Poor parents!
Acceptance says: Everybody has something to offer and do contribute when supported.
Awareness says: Beware of autism! It will cause havoc in our lives! All these people! How tragic!
Acceptance says: Diversity! Neurodiversity enriches our lives.
Awareness says: Donate to the awesome organizations that have all the pretty puzzle pieces and all the pretty blue lights!
Acceptance says: Support, include everyone!
See the difference?
Are you Aware of us, or are you striving to Accept us?
Because the two are almost opposite concepts.