autism respect month

April is coming.

We all know what that means.

A whole lot of talk about autism.

Some of it constructive.

A lot of it really damn DEstructive.

My dear friend, M, who is autistic, recently wrote:

One of the most common complaints I hear from parents with children on the spectrum is that, when they tell someone “My child has autism”, the person responds with “Oh, I’m so sorry”. Even if the child is standing right there*. It’s an amazingly hurtful, disrespectful thing to say.

I think to some degree, “awareness” months and too many advocacy groups create this problem by only discussing autism in terms of deficits, burdens and loss. They scare people into seeing autism as a boogeyman…and the person on the spectrum being discussed, with all of their feelings and thoughts and complexity…they get lost that rhetoric, discarded.

I know I’ve been looking for messages that emphasize respect for autism…that present people on the spectrum as human beings, not “burdens”. A message of respect doesn’t mean there are no tough days, no challenges…but it does mean that we need to carefully incorporate autistics into these messages and not lose sight of their value and dignity.

*emphasis mine

He wasn’t finding the message he was looking for. So he created it.

And it, like him, is a thousand kinds of awesome.

{image is a photo of a person hitting a High Striker carnival game with a mallet in an attempt to ring the bell at the top. S/he must pass through Awareness and Acceptance to reach the goal — Respect. Across the top, the text reads, “TAKE THE CHALLENGE!” On the bottom, the text reads,” Autism Awareness Acceptance Respect Month.”}
I love it so much.
(The right kind of) Awareness is good.
Acceptance is good. (Very, very good.)
Respecting the human beings standing in front of us?
NOW we’re ringing the bell.
{image is a photo of the image described above on a red t-shirt.}
M writes:

Awareness is a good start when it comes to autism issues, but too often “awareness” has meant discussions about impairments and “deficits”. Some of us want more than that. We want to elevate these concepts so that any discussion about autism can be both beneficial for those seeking information and empowering for those being discussed.

It takes strength to move beyond awareness. But the difficulty level just makes goals like acceptance and respect all the more valuable. Check out the shirts. Take the challenge. Start a conversation.

Learn more about Autism Respect Month HERE and buy one of M’s Autism Respect Month t-shirt HERE. (They’re only available for another week, so don’t wait.)

4 thoughts on “autism respect month

  1. Awareness can only be the start.

    Awareness + Education + Acceptance + Empowerment = Social Change

    As a parent, I know what it’s like to hear “I’m sorry” and as a disability rights advocate I know the kind of looks I get when I respond “I’m not.”

    Raising children with autism is such a challenge because, going into it, most of us don’t know what to do. We don’t know what services to get or how to get them. We don’t know what our kids need or how to provide it. We don’t know how to advocate for our kids effectively.

    I think many of us get lost in the learning process. We get so wrapped up in the “autistic” part of the equation that we forget the “child” part of the equation. But our children are like any other children in the sense that they need to be loved, supported, and encouraged. The whole job of the parent is to raise the child into an adult. And autism doesn’t change that and too many people for get that.

    If we don’t empower our children to become their own persons, then we’ve failed as parents, no matter how many IEP meetings we take by storm.

  2. How would you approach a company (those main mission is providing services to children with autism) about making adjustments to their “autism awareness” events? I’d like to encourage them to reconsider their connection to Autism Speaks and maybe find ways to develop ties to other organizations, such as ASAN. Any tips or resources would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Pingback: Moxie In The Making

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