Autism Awareness Month & Why It Makes Me Cringe

So it's that time of year again...autism 'awareness' month.  The internet is about to be filled with posts splattered with puzzle pieces, and asking you to light it up blue for autism 'awareness', or put a blue heart or puzzle piece on your timeline.
And I can tell you, most autistic people sure wish you wouldn't.

I know that must sound pretty negative and ungrateful, but let me explain why the majority of the #actuallyautistic community feel this way.

Let's start with the word 'awareness' - we don't want people to merely accept the fact that we exist.  Awareness, like tolerance, is the bare minimum a person can do; acknowledging we are here without having to think about us too much, or learn anything about our life experience or needs, or heaven forbid make adjustments to accommodate us.
We don't want 'awareness', we can work with acceptance, but even more than that, we deserve equality.  We need autistic voices to lead the conversations, and we need those voices to be listened to, because autistic people ARE the experts on autism.

Next let's talk about the puzzle piece symbol and the linking of the colour blue to autism.  Both of these things are symbols used by Autism Speaks.  Most people think of Autism Speaks as a charity that helps and supports autistic people and their families.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
In addition to running a series of advertising campaigns over the years which describe autistic people as 'damaged', or 'suffering', or anthropomorphising autism itself as a 'dangerous monster that is destroying a child', they also have no autistic people in positions of power, nor do they consult with autistic people, or the autistic led advocate groups.
They promote dangerous and harmful 'therapies' that seek to torture an autistic person, usually a child, into complying with demands to behave in a more 'normal', neurotypical way.  In effect forcing the autistic person to 'mask', which over prolonged periods causes psychological harm, and even PTSD.
Worst of all, they fundraise millions of pounds each year, yet very little of this money goes to autistic families.  Instead they funnel a huge proportion of the money into CRISPR research, to unlock the genetic markers associated with autism.  Not as a way to assist with diagnosis, but rather so autistic children can be identified in utero, and aborted.

So this April please don't post puzzle pieces, or symbols in blue, promote Autism Speaks or 'awareness', or post any content from non autistic organisations.  Instead, the autistic community would love for you to become a true ally; raise up autistic voices, share content from autistic led organisations, such as Autistic Inclusivity Meets AIM, the Autistic Women & Non Binary Network AWN or the Autistic Self Advocacy Network ASAN.

Autistic approved - the infinity symbol (either rainbow or gold)
Instead of Autism Awareness or light it up blue - red instead, light it up gold, Autism Acceptance / Empowerment / Equality.

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