Why I'm Not Celebrating Autism Awareness Month


It is April. It is Autism Awareness Month. Our Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and other social media accounts have no doubt been flooded with rainbows, jigsaws, blue or what ever symbol or color they have chosen to use this year. But mine has not.

I don’t feel the need to don my onesie for the day, or bake a load of cakes or whatever the latest ploy may be because to me it is just a publicity stunt. What will it be next month? To me “stunts” like this do little to raise acceptance of autism but serve more to reinforce the stereotypes.

I am also uncomfortable with the fact that many of these campaigns are run by charities who, let’s face it, want to make money. Many try to pull at your heart strings and make you want to part with your hard earned cash.

It makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Where are the stories that I want to show my son?

Because after all, isn’t that who it is about? Autistic people, like my son. What message do I want to give him?

There will be some who say, “Well, isn’t any publicity good publicity?” In my opinion, no. Not if it reinforces stereotypes.

I would like to see documentaries showing autism success stories, brilliant artists, musicians, dancers, etc., giving an honest account of their journey to get where they are now.

I would like people to see the diversity within the autistic community, not only the “extremes.”

I would like to watch a concert with amazing autistic performers or a play with autistic actors.

I would like to see autistic athletes competing.

I would like to listen to autistic authors speak, like Temple Grandin, or watch TED Talks like Rosie King’s “How autism freed me to be myself” or Steve Silberman’s “The forgotten History of Autism.”

I want acceptance! I don’t want awareness.

So I will continue to try and challenge those stereotypes and raise awareness of the real issues that face autistic families on a day to day basis. I will continue to write about us honestly and in my own quiet way…

But I will continue to keep one eye on Autism Awareness Month. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.

Lead photo: Thinkstock Images

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe your experience of not quite fitting under one specific diagnosis or a label your community identifies with. 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.

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