content warning: Autism Speaks, early intervention, ABA, some swearing
Today is April 1st, which means it's the beginning of Autism Acceptance month, but to many it's known as Autism Awareness month. I'd like to change that. Here's why:
Most of the "awareness" that is spread around is dehumanizing, pity-inducing, hateful rhetoric that Autism Speaks and other pro-cure organizations perpetuate. They see us as tragedies, broken, missing and lesser than neurotypical people. The reason why they portray us like this is because they want to make profits from other people. They don't really care about autistics.
Acceptance, on the other hand, means seeing others as equals, and embracing their autistic traits. This means allowing an autistic person to stim (that is, allowing them to jump, rock heir bodies, flap their hands or anything else that comes naturally to them.), not forcing them to make eye contact (it's very hard for many autistics to make eye contact with others when tallking to them because we have to process auditory and visual stimuli at the same time, which is difficult), and actually listening to an autistic person when they're trying to communicate with you.
When a child is diagnosed with autism at a young age, one of the first things doctors suggests is early intervention. Early intervention often involves "therapies" designed to make autistics indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers. These "therapies" are known as applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, and they're very harmful because they not only use exhausting and stressful tactics (such as forcing a child to make eye contact, or they won't get to play with their favorite toy), but they teach the child that their God-given neurology is "bad", and the child begins to feel that way, and as a result, may develop low-self esteem, anxiety and even PTSD from all the stress.
I am speaking this from experience. I was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and I was placed in early intervention. I was placed in special education all my life, from preschool all the way through 12th grade, and I've had some shitty things done to me there. I developed low self-esteem, and PTSD as a result, but God helped me get through it, and now I'm speaking out so people will be more accepting of autistics.
If you truly want to support autistics, wear red to show your support. Don't light it up blue! Blue is the color of Autism Speaks, which supports early intervention and ABA.
Support organizations that truly have autistics' best interests at heart, like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. They are run by and for autistics, so you know that they are good advocates for the autistic community.
Also, the Autism Women's Network is a good choice because they are majority autistic-led as well, and they help autistic women and girls.
Nothing About Us Without Us!