Friday, August 14, 2015

Who is your "awareness" really for?

If I never have to write about "awareness" again it'll be too soon. We've had Social Media Shutdown. We've had AutismSpeaks10. We've had AutismHeroes. We've had Smother Autism. And now we have Silent Selfie.

What do these have in common? They are allistic parent led initiatives that play on popular stereotypes to get pity in the name of "awareness". And they all, without fail, have responded negatively to Autistic people saying "that's not ok". It's like they all took the same class. Today I'm focusing on Silent Selfie because they're relatively new and because they're so emblematic of the problem, it's truly astonishing.

"Silent Selfie" is something a whiny autism mom (who calls her blog "A Year In the Life Of Autism", yet she is all about the person first language. There are so many things wrong with this it's a whole other post, let's just say: an allistic person can't write about that. Nope. That's co opting her child's point of view & pretending she speaks for him) started. For "Awareness", because apparently she's under that rock where no one has heard of autism. I don't know where this rock is, perhaps Narnia. It's where other allistic people take pictures of themselves with their hand over their mouth "for autism".

First thing wrong with this : hand over the mouth photos have been used extensively in raising awareness and support for survivors of human trafficking. I believe I've also seen them in sexual violence reduction campaigns. Do not do this. This is not your symbol. Stop. Stop. Stop. No.

Second thing wrong with this: we aren't silent. Self advocacy is for everyone. Literally everyone communicates. Their voices may not be out loud, but everyone has the capacity to express things. It may be with voice. Or sign. Or behavior. Or AAC. But everyone does this. So stop that.

Third thing wrong with this: parents & professionals & other allistic people go out of their way to silence us on a daily basis. We aren't silent because of autism; we are silent because of the sorts of people who build awareness campaigns. We're regularly trying to explain ourselves & being banned, bullied, threatened, deleted--silenced.

In fact, that's what the martyrs behind Silent Selfie chose to do: they chose to silence Autistic people protesting against their premise. And then they lied about it. A commenter on the threads predicted it, because she has pattern recognition. This is why I say that able people go to school for this: because the Autistic person said exactly what would happen, they presumably saw it, and they did it anyway.

When you are the dominant group silencing us, you don't get to use "this thing that I silence people for is the reason I am taking this offensive picture!" as a thing. That's not acceptable. I need a new irony meter. And no one is fooled; we know you're shushing us up because we're autistic & dare to disagree with you.

And we're back to who is this really for? It isn't helping your kid when you post about "silenced by autism"; it's really not helping your kid when you silence Autistic people. But it gets you warm fuzzes, right? And Oh What A Good Mom! points with other Real People. Nevermind that when you insist on speaking over us, you are perpetuating a world where your child is seen as needing you to speak for him forever (something you claim to not want! You want him to be able to do the thing! But not enough to build a world where people listen to him!). And that's ego. That's centering yourself.

Autism is not about you. We don't want your awareness. We don't want your damn silent selfies. If you really want to do something for autistic people, first stop posting your kid's business all over the internet. Then listen to us. Stop doing this mommy centered 'awareness' crap that stigmatizes us.

And stop lying about it. "We would never silence our friends with autism!" immediately after banning a dozen autistic activists? That's lying. Deleting all criticism and claiming people didn't understand it? Also lying.

We understand it. We may understand it better than you do. It's not okay. Your campaign is not okay. If you want a "pity me, for my child is not the child I wanted" awareness campaign, be honest and do that. Don't claim it's for us. It's not.

If you really want to do something for us, try actually being silent & listening for once.


Kit Partin said...

Such truth (from you) and such bullshit (from them) all at once. Icky.

I thought of screencapping the threads before they baleeted, but I didn't want to document Actual Autistic people without permission.

Mitchell said...

Is this being done by a specific group of people?

Jadea said...
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Jadea said...

Autism Moms™ are the WORST.

The problem is that they turn our identities into their own identities, they turn themselves into Autism Moms™ and Autism Warriors who are 'battling' autism, they view their children as broken or missing and thus they are super mom's to be able to deal with this. Of course this is grossly ignorant and prejudice against Autistic people like their children, but there's no telling them this because they are so deeply invested in this idea. They are trying to show themselves as great moms, turning their childs identity into their childs failing and proof that they are superior to other moms (there's an element of female competitiveness to this, thus why we see this behaviour more among moms than dads - but that's not to say that neurotypical dads of Autistic children cannot be problematic too).

This translates to seeing autism and Autistic people as the enemy, both because they see autism as something to be battled and they see Autistic people as a threat to their identity because we remind them that autism isn't a tragedy and our identity is not for them to claim for themselves. All the time Autism Moms™ tell us that we're too 'high-functioning', of course without knowing how our autism impacts on our lives to make any such judgement, in an attempt to silence us - I've had Autism Moms™ sending me death threats and hurling horrific abuse simply as I've asked parents to listen.

Autistic children become Autistic adults - sometimes our ability to function remains low and sometimes it doesn't, but we are always Autistic so know better than Autism Moms™ what it is to be Autistic: as varied as we all are we share common traits. Imagine how much good Autism Moms™ could do if they only listened to us, realized that Autism campaigns should be about Autistic people rather than being about them, they could learn how to better help their children now and help us fight for improved treatment, support, and equality for future their children...but nope, it's always got to be about them.

Sonia Boue said...
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Lorraine Murphy said...

Excellent piece! Will share far and wide!

Lorraine Murphy said...

Excellent piece! Will share far and wide!

Lorraine Murphy said...

Excellent piece! Will share far and wide!

David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. said...

Guess what happened folks!!!

They proved Kassiane to be correct.

Neurodivergent K said...

They pretty much always prove me to be correct.

Which is ridiculous. Maybe I'm just unusually oppositional, but I know if someone says to me "you messed up. This is how you messed up. You CAN fix it this way, but I bet you won't. Prove me wrong." I am going to move heaven and earth to prove them wrong.

But I also think Autistic people are people, something they & their commentariat have clear issues with.

Marcelle Ciampi said...

powerful post