Light it up Blue! You see all over facebook and twitter. It’s April which means it’s also Autism “Awareness” month. So to make you “aware,” “Hi, my name is Kristen and I have a daughter diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” And my job for “awareness” is done.
If you’re paying close attention though, you’re starting to see various individuals and groups talking about Autism “Awareness”/Acceptance Month. And a few dropping “awareness” from it altogether.
A few years ago, I began to realize that “awareness” was never going to cut it. As Welsh mum Martine O’Callaghan writes in her post Splatter It White-ish:
Awareness is passive. How many times have you been “made aware” of a situation without being expected to do a single thing about it? “I’m just making you aware…” does not compel action or a change in behaviour. It does not, in real terms,impact the lives of Autistic people for the better.
Awareness is never enough.
So you know my kid has autism, so what?
Guess what, she’s also funny, silly, amazingly skilled at jigsaw puzzles, sneaky, and opinionated. But unless you accept her, you’ll never, ever know that.
And a lot of people out there are counting on you not to get to know her so that they can spread misinformation that states that autism is a disease to be feared like Zika or Ebola and that autistics should be eliminated. These are the people who link autism to mass shootings and spread mis-information that life with a child with autism is a life full of cleaning up feces off walls and violent rampages attacking parents, siblings and care-givers.
Some of the people preaching are from organizations like Autism $peaks. And more than a few are parents sharing the intimate stories of their own children.
After the Newtown shootings when it was revealed that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC made erroneous claims about violence in individuals with Asperger’s. He is the father of a son diagosed with Asperger’s. In addition, an article was published online entitled, “My Son is Adam Lanza” by a mother who initially put her name and all her information on it, thus exposing her son’s identity in the process.
And let’s not even get started on the parents who murder their autistic children and then are routinely praised by the media and considered “courageous” for killing an innocent human being because they had “suffered” so greatly.
Are some autistics violent? Yes. Do some smear feces and never make a human connection? Yes. But to exclusively focus on every single negative regarding autism is to discount the many, many wonderful things many of these children and adults contribute to this world.
And to further discount the joy of a child like mine living with, not suffering from, autism we have groups like A$, who have the lion-share of funds, further degrading their humanity through genetic research which they intend to use the way M@rch of Dime$ uses genetic research to prevent birth defects: aborting unborn individuals with genetic markers.
And guess what other human abomination is rearing its ugly head. Eugenics! As this article from The Spectator points out, it’s not just for Nazis. Wonder how European nations are “curing autism” that’s right: it’s euthanasia!
If you want to know why this is happening, well we’ve spent so much time make people “aware” of autism and particularly the nasty, ugly parts of it that they refuse to accept individuals with it and believe their lives are no value! Think we are so much better than Europe or countries where these children are institutionalized, well, then, aside from glamorizing parents who murder autistic children whose statistics are we always touting? That’s right, the Center for Disease Control. We’ve villianized the neurology of individuals with autism to the point that we consider their neurology something to be rid of like cancer.
To be sure, an individual diagnosed with ASD will face challenges in life. Some similar to those without ASD and some unique and owing to that neurology. Just as some neuro-typical individuals have lives they hate so will some with ASD. And for bullying? Why are we saying that the ASD individual must want to die and therefore should be euthanized but not the obese individual? Nor the acne-ridden one? Nor the one with scars from a fire? Why are their lives worth saving but the ASD invidual’s should be “mercifully” ended? Trick question: all their lives are worth saving and there is no mercy in euthanasia.
We need to stop “being aware” of autism and start accepting the human beings born with this neurology. We need to stop funding endless studies into causation and begin using those funds to help with education, therapy, housing and job placement for those already here living and navigating a world that was not designed with them in mind. We need to develop policies that help these individuals succeed in life. And we need to hear the ALL the autistic voices, not exclusively the ones who hate their lives but the ones who love their lives and wouldn’t change them.
Currently, people are “aware” of autism and autistics. And the majority of their awareness leads them to believe that autistics are less than second class citizens and not worthy of love, acceptance, and even life.
Well, to help you accept and love my child with autism here are some awesome things going on her life this week:
- Every day, like any other nine-year-old, we are having epic struggles about wardrobe choice.
- Tomorrow she will participate in Special Olympics in our new county for the first time.
- In the last few weeks, she has started learning and using “praying hands” during grace before meals. This week she has started praying The Sign of the Cross as well before grace with visual cues and almost no hand over hand.
- She recognizes the sign for “bus.”
She also laughed hysterically with her brothers at “The Amazing World of Gumball” and had the easiest transition back to school after Spring Break.
She is not a statistic. She is not someone to be avoided. She is worthy of love. Her life matters. And protecting her life and the lives of others with autism spectrum disorder is a pro-life issue of moving beyond awareness to acceptance.