Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Be aware of THIS

This was my 2008 Autism Awareness Month post.

Ah April, the true cruelest month, at least if you are autistic or sympathetic towards autistics and what we really think. "Autism Awareness Month", they call it. Awareness of what? It seems more and more to be awareness that many parents feel cheated because they didn't get the typical or supertypical child they feel they so richly deserved, a month of awareness of how the PARENTS feel they suffer, a month of awareness of all the things they are putting the child through to put themselves out of their misery. Quackery awareness month, even, but of course no one will come out and call a spade an effing shovel because autistic people don't count in this society. That's right, it's a f*ing shovel.

With that in mind in this vomitous puzzle piece bedecked month, here are some things to keep in mind if you intend to "do something for awareness" or are bombarded by people who are (or are asking you why you aren't):

1. "Awareness" is not the same thing as information. I can get 10,000 people to wear a puzzle ribbon pretty easily but that doesn't mean they know a blessed thing about autism. "Awareness" is crap.

2. "Awareness" is a vague goal, in addition to being crap. Awareness of what? Awareness of what autism IS? No, no one exactly knows and that's too much like information. Awareness that adults need services too? No, we don't look cute on their posters. Awareness that autism is more than just people smearing shit and banging their heads? No, that makes us sound too much like people. Awareness that many parents think that ohnoesvaxxeenzeetbabeez and they need to follow their GooglePhD protocol to rescue them and need YOUR MONEY to do it? That particular faction shouts the loudest. Note how few autistic people are served by "awareness".

3. Please be AWARE that autistic people are just that, PEOPLE. We don't need the dehumanization that nearly invariably comes with the "human interest" stories. Even if we don't talk, we can hear and pick up on the attitude that exudes from these pieces.

4. Please also be AWARE that we are AWARE of autism year round, and thus don't necessarily feel the need to do more than we do every day-namely, being ourselves. Conversely, if other people happen to notice us being ourselves more during April, that isn't necessarily us "acting out", but so called awareness making people more aware or self conscious or whatever. The rest of the world can suck it up and deal.

5. Consider that we may not want to read every article on autism, go to every (or even ANY) autism event, or watch every program. See dehumanizing, above. This holds especially true for anti cure folks and those of us who have more than had our fill of the dehumanizing vomitous pity party garbage.

6. Be AWARE of not just the "valiant struggling parents", but also the children and adults who are doing well, the ones who aren't doing well, and the ones who are doing what THEY consider well and are happy.

7. Be especially AWARE of the autistics who's parents, caregivers, and others bought into their own self pity and have done terrible, often irreversible things to them. NEVER EVER forget those who are no longer with us, for the crime of being autistic.

I really hate Autism Awareness Month. For my part, I will be being myself and perhaps breaking out a couple of my more pointed neurodiversity shirts. That's about it. I don't do big bursts of awareness.


Kathryn Bjornstad said...

Love it. A lot of people may find posts like this to be harsh, and I guess it is in a way but I can really sympathize with the frustration you have. I have seen autistic people run awareness campaigns well, but I think their goal is more autism acceptance than autism awareness, and the language of those campaigns is changing.

Of course, groups like Autism Speaks will never go away from their "Autism Awarness" campaign. It's profitable and they don't need to do anything to help autistic people when they raise funds for awareness. And because the people who donate to them are so certain that they're now more "aware" of autism, it makes people feel good. I think a lot of fundraising for awareness is really there for people who aren't autistic. They care more about feeling good about themselves than about how we feel about the campaigns.

The Empty Envelope said...

Bravo! This is exactly how I feel and so well put.

Sullivan said...

Sadly as true today as it was in 2008.

Ole Ferme l'Oeil said...

I can't find anything else to say than the fact that I agree so much with this post and the three comments before mine