A Reflection on Autism Awareness

A few years ago, someone, probably that blue-puzzle-piece organization, came up with this idea of a World Autism Awareness Day. I, personally, am aware of autism every minute of every day, but I recognize that this day or Autism Awareness Month are not geared toward me. They’re meant for the people with whom our loved ones on the autism spectrum have to interact. They’re meant to help those “typical” people move past a state of ignorance about the condition, which is all good, right?

I’m all for promoting awareness, but I can’t support that organization anymore. I haven’t for a long time now. I found their ad campaign about autistic children being “kidnapped” by autism offensive and counter-productive. Maybe I would view the organization better if they actually listened to the many autistic individuals who can speak for themselves. And all that money they’ve raised? How much of it is actually going to support and advocacy programs versus salaries and administration of the organization? I think the numbers might be disproportionate to say the least. Maybe some of those millions would be better spent making therapies more affordable for the average family raising a kid on the spectrum. Just a thought.

Perhaps they can raise awareness about the side of autism that doesn’t involve sensational, negative projections of gloom and doom.

I see a need for awareness of the fact that Gus and others like him are smart, funny, sweet, talented, sensitive, emotional, and aware. They are not brats or products of bad parenting because they exhibit behaviors “typical” individuals don’t understand. Yes, some people still think that. I’ve met some recently. I wish they were aware of how obnoxious and mean their dirty looks are and how much I’d like to smack them when they make snide comments about my son’s behaviors. I would love them to have more awareness of how much fortitude it takes to cope with their intolerance.

There are people who still think autism isn’t a real condition—just a construct of the medical field created to give doctors and pharmaceutical companies something to do. They could use some awareness too.

I would love to see more patience, understanding and compassion toward individuals on the autism spectrum. Maybe at some point, awareness will actually lead to acceptance. If the blue-puzzle-piece organization could pull that off, I might give back my support.





*Clip art copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey,http://webclipart.about.com