This is a repost from April 2006. It's one of the first blog posts I ever wrote ever.
Autism Awareness Month?
Or is it "Fundraise for cash to get rid of autistics month"? Anyone who isn't AWARE by now lives under a rock. So. What do we do about it?
I propose an alternative way of celebrating. Forget the fundraisers. NAAR, CAN, DAN!, MOMA, AutismWeeps, all those organizations can piss off. Let's make people REALLY aware of autism.
When April rolls around, I make a point of stimming in public. A LOT. Not hiding the lack of eye contact. Wearing shirts that I made myself and the one I have from ANI that have autism-positive wording. I've been known to make people "talk" to me in writing. Sensory simulations for NTs, done well, will make them aware all right, but it's important to emphasize that it's the world's turn to change, not ours. We've adapted to their world since the beginning.
If I could get the gig, I'd talk to school kids about autism and how it isn't bad, just different. Get them while they're young. Teaching autistics about their unique brains is another one I want to do on a larger scale. We need more "unique", "talented", "what a great kid!" and less "emergency," "epidemic," "tsunami" language.
The most important thing isn't getting rid of the ghastly puzzle ribbon (though I sure wish we could!). It is making people aware of what we are good at, as a group and individually, instead of just where our weak spots are. Educating people that being autistic is OK. Even being nonverbal is OK (alternative communication anyone?). Teaching them that cure isn't the answer, but instead meeting us halfway. Teaching them that abuse isn't necessary to for us to learn skills.
We don't need Autism Awareness Month. We need Autism EDUCATION Month. Educating educators, parents, other professionals, random kids and adults in public, and educating OURSELVES. This is what we should be doing. If only the big organizations could see it...