It’s Autism Awareness Month. And today it is Autism Awareness Day. There is all sorts of Autism Awareness going on. Organisations such as Autism Speaks are telling us that people with Autism are a burden. Quite a lot of parents are joining in that chant. People with Autism are telling the world that it needs to listen to people with Autism instead, and not others with little clue about how Autism affects on the inside rather than how it affects from the outside. Everybody is talking, and there are a hundred different messages swirling around in a great big jumbled internet housed electronic mess…
One of the biggest of these messages is one pushed forth by the Autistic community, which is “Accept us! Do not be content to just be aware of us.” I just saw a meme on Facebook which stated “Can the three people that aren’t “aware” of Autism even see the blue lights from where they must live?” The sentiment that people need to accept us for who we are rather than just be aware that we exist is a good sentiment.
The thing is though – not everyone IS aware of Autism yet. It might seem like it when you are caught up in the Autism world, but sometimes I get to leave that world and go out into various other medical worlds, or even just the world in general, and I can tell you, there is still a lot of awareness work to be done. It was only a few weeks ago I came across a medical professional who had not heard of Aspergers at all, and didn’t understand what Autism really meant. I had to explain it to him. And yes, I live in Australia. You would think this lack of knowledge wouldn’t be possible, but here he is, alive and breathing, and all ignorant of Autism.
We still need awareness.
Until police stop killing us, we still need awareness.
Until psychiatrists stop locking us up and drugging us to oblivion instead of taking us to a safe place to calm down, we still need awareness.*
Until teachers allow us to fully integrate in mainstream classrooms without trying to change who we are, we still need awareness.
Until ALL parents boycott Autism Speaks and all organisations like it, we still need awareness.
Until the average person on the street asks us if we need help with our three year old melting down pot of a child, instead of glaring at us with all the judgments in the world, we still need awareness.
Awareness is what teaches organisations and people what it is that we need. Only once they are aware can they accept without harm. We need to be careful not the throw the awareness out with the blue. We still need awareness. We just don’t need awareness the way that Autism Speaks likes to do it. We need to do awareness our own way.
*Of all the professions, psychiatrists should have the most knowledge of Autism, yet they are the ones who most often do the most harm. This is because while they are aware, and some would say, they even accept us for who we are, what they don’t have is the CORRECT knowledge they need. They still believe the old crap written by white men who watched Rain Man too often (I’m looking at you, Simon).