I’ve spent a few days highlighting the problems with autism awareness campaigns by sharing memes on my Facebook page. For the sake of continuity, I’ll share them at the bottom of this post as well.
Now, that more people are aware that autism awareness campaigns tend to do more harm than good, I would like to focus on acceptance. I want to know what acceptance means to you. If you want to send me your comments, I’ll use them to create images which you can share from my Facebook page during the month of February. While I will try to use all suggestions, time constraints mean that I might not be able to create images for every contribution, and where there are very similar suggestions, I may combine these into one image.
If you would like to contribute, you can either comment on Facebook or use the form below.
To explain each image, I’m copying the text and links that I wrote when I shared the images on Facebook.
Autism Awareness Campaigns
Autistic Adults Exist
So where were we then? Well, we haven’t always been called autistic, but we’ve always existed. There are historical figures who have been speculatively retroactively diagnosed as autistic, but I’m not talking about them. I’m referring to the every day autistic people like me.
You didn’t see us because often we would be institutionalised. Some of us still are. But we’ve always existed. More importantly, your autistic children will grow up to be autistic adults. Don’t leave preparation for adulthood to when they’re almost an adult. Presume competence and guide them through life knowing that they will one day be adults.
I’m not going to add my own thoughts to this image other than to request that you read the following posts:
- Why I left ABA
- The Dangers of ABA: A Survivor’s Story, Pt 1
- Quiet Hands
- Indistinguishability from Peers – an Introduction
- Indistinguishability from Peers mean: You don’t have autism related problems
- The Cost of Indistinguisability is unreasonable
- If you don’t use your words you won’t be indistinguishable
- The Tyranny of Indistinguisability: Performance
Puzzle Piece Symbols
Here is a link which briefly explains why. Even when the puzzle piece is not associated with hateful groups, it often carries the meaning that we’re a mystery/problem to be solved, or even that we have pieces missing from us.
We’re not missing pieces. We’re whole people who do things differently to the majority of people so we may need to be supported and accommodated because societies were not designed for us.
Light It Up Blue
This is my penultimate image in this series. After I share the final image tomorrow, I will be starting a different focus, so check back on Sunday (or Saturday depending on time zones) for news on that.
To explain this image, please read this, as well as this. And, if you do not believe that blue came from A$, perhaps this link which is an archived page of a post which is still live on the A$ website might convince you.
There are many ways to communicate, and they don’t all involve speaking. For instance, there’s Facilitated Communication. With regards to awareness campaigns, many of them focus on the ‘challenging behaviour’ of autistic children, completely forgetting that behaviour is a form of communication.
All forms of communication are equally valid.
What does all of that have to do with Awareness Campaigns?
Awareness campaigns never seem to address those subjects, or when they do, they do it from the perspective of non-autistic people who want us to behave in less autistic ways. Our ways of communication are seen as deficits rather than differences. Therapy which traumatises us is seen as the best solution to the problem which is us. We’re turned into symbols instead of people, all in the name of telling the world that we are a problem. People say that this is done in the name of education, but if that were so, why is the majority of information that comes out of awareness campaigns focused on parent narratives? Why are we left out of the conversation and spoken about as though we aren’t even here?