April is upon us, and to the non-autistic world April is Autism Awareness Month. In this post I look at some problems with the ‘autism awareness’ narrative and put forward an alternative viewpoint. After my own bit I will share a couple of important related links.
THE PROBLEMS WITH AUTISM AWARENESS
At its most innocuous the ‘awareness’ narrative is simply laughably inadequate for the purpose. People being aware of autism, its challenges and its benefits (yes, the latter do exist) is at most a start. At its worst, as exemplified by a USian organization that is still allowed to call itself an ‘autism charity’ but is in truth an anti-autistic hate group (I will not sully these pages with the name of said organization, suffice it to say that if you see anything with featuring a blue puzzle piece avoid it like the plague) it is deeply destructive, contributing to the ‘othering’ of autistic people.
AUTISM ACCEPTANCE –
THE ABSOLUTE MINIMUM
Autism acceptance means accepting autistic people as people, allowing us to be ourselves and express our talents and individuality in our own ways, not seeking to make us fit. Not only is forcing square pegs into round holes counter productive, you are highly likely to break the pegs in the process. If I write any further autism specific posts in the course of this next month I will not again mention ‘autism awareness’ – I have done so here only to highlight its inadequacies, I will be starting from a baseline of Autism Acceptance.
AUTISM APPRECIATION/ AUTISTIC PRIDE
Many of my greatest strengths come directly from being autistic, and actually what we need to see a lot more of is the talents and strengths of autistic people being appreciated. Part of that appreciation is acknowledging that we do have the talents and skills we possess in spite of being autistic, in many cases we have those skills and talents precisely because we are autistic. Look out when reading about autism for stuff written by autistic people, – there are plenty of us writing about autism and wanting to be found. Enjoy your April as much as you are able to.
TWO IMPORTANT LINKS
Kerry Anne Mendoza of The Canary has recently been diagnosed as autistic, and has produced her own piece tackling this subject, which you can read by clicking here.
Christa Holmans, aka Neurodivergent Rebel has produced an excellent piece titled “Rethinking the Way We Describe Autistic People From Problems to Possibilities“, which I highly recommend to you.
My usual sign off…