As most of you know April is Autism Awareness Month. Or as some people prefer, Autism Acceptance Month. From my understanding it seems that people are pushing more towards “acceptance” because a lot of people still associate “awareness” with Autism Speaks.
In case you don’t know, supporting Autism Speaks is NOT the way to show your support for people on the spectrum.
Here’s why: The entire platform of Autism Speaks is working on a cure. If a person on the spectrum wants that cure then that’s fine, but it has to be their choice. The issue with that, is that eradicating autism does not help people who currently are on the spectrum. It sends the message that these people need to be “fixed.” This organization doesn’t help them thrive and excel.
Personally, I believe in choosing to advocate acceptance instead of awareness in this case. Think about it, when you hear of awareness months for other things like certain types of cancer or sexual assault (also this month) it’s about being informative and telling people how they can help, right? You get the stats on how many people are affected, what the needs of those people are, what resources are available, and how you can help. Advocating for a cure and nothing else, doesn’t do that. A lot of their proceeds also go toward creating a test that can detect autism in in the womb so that the baby can be aborted. Now, I am pro-choice and I believe you should absolutely be able to make your own decision, but do you see how “getting rid” of autism is contradictory for a group that’s supposed to be a support system?
Also, no “Light it up Blue” please. Blue is not the only official color of Autism Awareness. If you’ve seen the ribbon you know that it’s actually red, yellow and blue. This trend stems from the fact that autism affects boys more than girls (important fact to know!) but also that a lot of doctors refuse to treat autistic women and girls or even give them a proper diagnosis.
Another thing that a lot of people don’t seem to know, is that there are no autistic individuals on the board of directors for Autism Speaks. Sure, a handful of them have children on the spectrum but that’s still not the same thing. Kind of hard to know what the needs of a group are when you don’t include people from that group in decision making right? Kind of like a bunch of men deciding what women should do with their bodies or straight people making choices for the LGBTQIA+ community…..I digress.
Anyway, so if you want to help but don’t know where to turn, I can help you out with that! These are the organizations that you should look into:
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network
- Autism Women’s Network
- The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
- Identity-First Autistic
- Amythest Schaber – YouTuber
Also, in case you haven’t heard, Sesame Street has introduced a new autistic character named Julia. Now of course one character can’t showcase all points on the spectrum but it is a very good start. You can watch the clip with Julia below where Big Bird has to learn what autism is and Alan, Abby and Elmo help. (Yeah, I’m 23 and I still know the names of the characters) 🙂
The new Power Rangers movie also features an autistic character. The Blue Ranger is on the spectrum too!