April has always been a difficult time for the autistic community because of autism awareness and acceptance days, weeks or Month (referred to as ‘autism month’ going forward).
To the average person this may seem like a confusing statement, as they assume that this month is for us and “raising awareness” of the issues we can experience. Large scale autism month events and organisations will claim this is their intention. However, the reality is vastly different from the autistic people who dread and endure April as autism month.
Although autism generally gets more attention this time of year than any other, so do the poor takes that ill-Informed people have about autism to the straight up bigotry. More visibility doesn’t exactly translate into an autistic utopia.
Maybe it’s best I show you some examples and autistic people’s responses to them.
As you can see, the impact is vast and most of us experience a heightened level of ableism, all in the name of “promoting the cause”. The reality is it’s mainly about fundraising for non-autistic led organisations, which many autistics do not support with Autism Speaks being the prime example of this.
Also some appear to use social media posts for clout due to their proximity to autistic people. Although I don’t think all realise the impact they are having by doing this, the autistic community certainly picks up the often dehumanising rhetoric that can come along with these posts (this is a long topic for another time, but to put it simply, just because you work/have a family member/ know an autistic person, does not give you saint like status. This is a disability justice issue).
On a personal level, seeing people I know in the real world perpetuate these poor takes online is the hardest thing to digest. It reminds me of the levels of ableism I’ve experienced in my physical location and how I never really felt accepted by my local community.
So the real question is, if autism month is doing more damage than good to the autistic community then what is the point. Seriously, what is the point? When these promotional campaigns don’t exactly lead to the changes in society that would make the world a less hostile place towards autistic people? Otherwise, why would there still be the need for autism month to exist year after year?
I’m going to end this blog post with one of my recent tweets about autism month.
As if it was for us, so many of us wouldn’t feel this way about April and feel the need to avoid social media at all costs.
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