It’s two days before the start of Autism Awareness Month (April) and because I like to spread nothing but awareness and my efforts to promote acceptance, I am going to spend the next two days to release all my pent up frustrations and anger towards what I feel is nonsense and completely divisive rhetoric coming from those within the Autism community. I want to start my April feeling good about what I am attempting to accomplish in regards to raising awareness, fundraising, and helping others…I cannot do so when my mind is plagued by these issues I keep bottled up. I loathe conflict, not because I’m a people pleaser or not good at holding my own, but because I feel I’m too good at holding my own, and I end up feeling bad for putting people in places they never should have leapt (archaic term I know, but fitting) from to come for me. And it’s also exhausting to maintain a seemingly never-ending argument. Having said all of that, I am going to open myself up and risk the angry comments and messages that are sure to come, they always do.
I have issues with the sentiment that this community no longer NEEDS awareness, but acceptance. It’s erroneous to think that we have attained an acceptable level of awareness and that we should discard our efforts to promote awareness and solely focus on acceptance. I take no issue with acceptance, as some have often posited, but I definitely do not think that abandoning our awareness efforts is wise, considering I don’t feel we are yet done with making the public aware of Autism. Sure they may have heard of Autism, but do they actually know what Autism IS? In my experience, no. Many still think that because my youngest can speak, that he doesn’t have Autism. Does that sound like a public that is aware of what Autism IS? No, it does not.
We shouldn’t dismiss awareness because there are too many in this community who aren’t even aware of an entire side of the spectrum. The severe side of Autism. The side you don’t often see in the media, movies, or television. The side of the spectrum whose loved ones are most apt to identify with an Autism Speaks, “I am Autism,” message, sans the creepy, ominous voice (that was unnecessary in my opinion). The “want a cure” side.
And speaking of Autism Speaks….
You want to spend hours reading post after post about Autism Speaks? Join an Autism group online and just scroll. You want to keep an Autism group distracted and arguing for hours? Post something about Autism Speaks. You want your own personal hate messages? Tell them you support Autism Speaks.
People spend too much time trying to tell others who to support. Your telling me and others that you too, have Autism, and that this is why others shouldn’t support them, because you don’t, is bull. You don’t get extra credit. Not from me. And others shouldn’t either, but they do, and that’s on them.
Good for you for being able to self-advocate and voice your opinion about matters that you’re passionate about, I hope that my youngest will one day be just like you. My oldest may never ever be just like you. You are your own voice, I am his. I will always be his, until I am no longer mentally able to do so, or until I pass. If I could live forever to care for him, I would not want a cure, I would gladly care for him…forever. But you know how life works…we die.
Neglecting to understand the fears and realities of the parent of a child with severe Autism is just as harmful as what you claim Autism Speaks is. Your dismissive nature towards them and inability to understand their struggles is what prompts them to seclude themselves in separate groups, or worst yet, feel alone while surrounded by those who are supposed to “get it.”
Treating Autism as some condition that everyone who has it, has it mildly and its comorbidity that affects it’s severity is ridiculous. Ri.damn.di.cu.lous. What’s even more ridiculous is the insistence on likening Autism with that of being a racial minority. I have never understood the parallel, and I’m not even going to attempt to now. Should someone find it in their hearts to aid me in this, by all means, I’m listening…I’ll even retract my statement of it being foolish should I come to “see the light” lol.
Like it or not, agree with it or not, many are drawn to groups and organizations that also show the not so pretty side of Autism, because for many, that is what Autism is in their homes. Autism isn’t always pretty. Ain’t all quirks and obsessive behaviors. The problem isn’t with the fact that many find help and hope with these groups and organizations. The problem isn’t with showing Autism in what many claim to be a “negative” light. The problem is that so many don’t think that Autism has a negative side. It does. Instead of lambasting others for pointing them out. Help them through those tough times. Tell them they will get through it. Give them tips and pointers on how to help their loved one who is having a rough time. Show them that they are not alone. And most importantly, acknowledge the existence of their struggle.
All in all, support who YOU want to support. I do, and I support pretty much every darn thing. You can ask for opinions if necessary, but ultimately do your own research, and come to your own conclusions.