*gets up on soapbox*
Okay, I am ready. Last year, I could have written this post but I did not, choosing to keep my trap shut. This year is different. If I see another blue Autism "Awareness" mani in my news feed on Facebook, I am going to offload in a NOT very positive manner. So, before that happens, here are my reasons for NOT sporting an Autism "Awareness" mani:
First of all...
Awareness? Is autism the same thing as cancer or something? I think a lot of people know what it is now and I am not sure that awareness will do anything but further stigmatize people with autism. They are people, first and foremost. How about Acceptance? I am all for Autism Acceptance. I myself have a problem making eye contact with people I don't know and I would hate to be pitied or judged because I am awkward. I would rather people just accept me for who I am and not worry so much about me! I know I have been called weird and treated strangely by people for my entire life. This is how I empathize with autistic people. Some people can't understand that and it is okay...as long as you accept that there are other ways of existing. I, myself, cannot understand being able to walk up to people and start a conversation or even flirting. That is okay.
Curing autism? Not sure how that would ever work and not sure it would be an option for everyone. PLUS---did you ever think maybe there are autistic people (and other neuro-diverse people) who DON'T want to be cured? Have you heard the phrase "nothing about us without us"? Organizations that claim to be charities (like Autism Speaks, a horrid excuse for one) are often created purely for the benefit of parents who have a hard time dealing with their autistic children. It isn't easy to raise a child with a disability as an abled person and no one would argue with that---however, that child has a right to be who they are and treated like a human being, not thrown into truly scary and damaging "therapies" or treated like a non-entity.
I don't want misconceptions out there about autism and people with autism. I want them to speak for themselves, or if they can't speak, to count on the support of others in their community and culture to do so for their well-being and benefit. Disabled people have their own culture and they deserve to be recognized, their views validated.
Here are some resources I have used myself to learn about people with autism:
If you've supported organizations like Autism Speaks or Operation Rescue in the past, please reconsider your support going into the future. You can do more by spreading a message of acceptance and education rather than fear and misinformation.
Note: If you are a parent or relative, or even close friend, with first-hand knowledge of autistic or neuro-diverse persons, please think of how they feel if you haven't before. It is never easy to be different and stressing the sacrifices and negative aspects of living with autistic people is damaging, not only to their self-worth, but to those autistic children yet to be raised by parents who believe it is the worst thing that could happen to their children.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Here is my mani, a Solidarity Raised Fist with a franken I made: