Why I Can’t Support Autism Awareness Month as an Autistic Person
Shocking, I know. For many families with autistic children, or autistic people ourselves, this time of year is filled with families being excited for Autism Awareness Day/Month. Which is great. Good for them. If it makes more people hear about autism then I will agree that it is not a bad thing. But that does not mean I support it. When we say that we need Autism Awareness Month, we say we need a month to talk about autism. We say that our world is so incapable of understanding us that we need an entire month to teach them.
Think about it like this. Autism is classified as a developmental disorder. It causes difficulty in social communication, stimming behavior, etc. I am not even going to pretend that autism is “easy,” because it’s not easy. However, autism is not life-threatening. Look at something like Hunter’s syndrome, which causes a long list of life-threatening side effects and has a life expectancy of between 10 and 20 years. However, Hunter’s syndrome does not even have one day for recognizing and learning about it. It, along with many other diseases, get lumped into Rare Disease Day. And while that day is a great idea, it also severely limits the chances for awareness on individual rare diseases.
Let me just press this: I am not saying that we do not need a day for autism awareness. Of course we do. And I fully support it. However, what I cannot in good conscience support is an entire month for autism awareness. I can’t because I refuse to say that my struggles and my fight are greater than other people’s.
Finally, just let me say this. I support autistic people. I support our right to be allowed to live our lives, I support our ability to function in this world. But I also support and wholeheartedly agree with the people who say that autism is not something that needs to be cured or be fixed. Because I agree with them. And that is the other reason I don’t approve of this month, because it’s a month that a lot of people dedicate solely to raising money for research for a “cure” for autism. I don’t think we need a cure. I think we need acceptance. I think we need to look at each other and stop saying we are different. We need to stop and look at each other and say, “We are one. We are in this together. We will do this together.” We don’t need to change or bend. You don’t need to fix us, because we do not want to be fixed. We don’t need it. And I know I only speak for myself, but I wish everyone would stop trying to get us to be someone who we aren’t, and start letting us learn how to accept ourselves. Teach us who we are. Teach us to accept it. Please. Don’t force us to learn it for ourselves.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one commonly held opinion within the community surrounding your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) that doesn’t resonate with you? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images