It’s been a while since posting. I am studying an online course which I have neglected at times and am now on a short timeline to get finished before the deadline. But today is April 1st. April fools day in some circles. But in autism circles, it is a key time. It marks the eve of the so-called world autism day. The day itself is under the auspices of the UN. Unfortunately, though, it has been somewhat co-opted or taken over by the big business that masquerades as a charity the US corporation Autism Speaks.
Yes, you read correctly. I said a corporation. Autism Speaks should be understood as such. If it looks like a corporation, acts like a corporation spends like a corporation and markets like a corporation; chances are that’s exactly what it is.
Make no mistake Autism Speaks is a for-profit entity that has multimillion dollar turnover and spends a minuscule proportion of those funds on actual support for actual autistics. They spend about 4% of their budget on this support. For a fuller discussion on what is wrong with Autism Speaks watch this video:
So it’s April, a month that has been very much embraced by the autism and autistic communities as autism month. April two, tomorrow, is often called autism awareness day, I refuse to label it as such. It is acceptance not awareness that is required and needed. It is a world autism acceptance day that is needed not just awareness.
Several months ago I made a decision to blog each day in April. Each day will be a different letter. That covers 26 days. I guess it gives me a little leeway to miss a day or two or else a few extra topics. My 30 days of autism blogging. 30 days of April, I hope 30 days of purposeful and positive messages about autism, acceptance, being autistic, neurodiversity, being neurodivergent and so forth.
So it begins. A is for Autism not for Armageddon.
A is for autism. A neurological difference present from birth. Genetic in nature. Autism is not a coming armageddon. Autism has always been with us. It’s not something new and it’s not something altogether hateworthy.
Officially in the psychiatric manuals and so forth it is described as Autism Spectrum Disorder. I don’t like that it is classified as a disorder, but I remind myself that this is an official description for diagnostic and medical purposes. I still don’t like it, but in reality, there is not really much I can do about it. Other than to continue to celebrate and remind myself and those around me that I am not broken I am different.
At times just hearing or reading those three little letters have made me cringe and sparked anger and frustration in me. Now not so much. I have made my own little mind shift. I do this little quickstep in my head that reframes ASD from Autism Spectrum Disorder and transforms it to Autistic Spectrum Difference, and, in that little quickstep, a world of difference takes place for me. It moves me out of a sense of mental illness to be “aware” of and into a paradigm of neurodiversity and difference that should be ‘accepted’ and celebrated.
It’s not an armageddon, it’s not in any way like a giant meteor plunging to earth like a global killer in the film Armageddon. It’s not a comet-like in Deep Impact either. An armageddon is something that is set to wipe out the earth we live on, or, at least, human existence as we know it.
Autism is not that. It never has been. It never will be.
Yet we have regular occurrences of Autism being referred to in similar terms, such as epidemic and catastrophe. Yet, autism doesn’t kill anyone, it doesn’t even make one terminally ill. Yet millions upon millions of dollars are pledged in dedication to eradicating it.
It really doesn’t make sense.
If we were to look at things in our society that perhaps should be labelled as an epidemic or a coming armageddon there are many others that qualify for better. Things like a Donald Trump presidency for instance. (well it is April 1st). But seriously, wouldn’t the various cancers be more accurately described as a coming armageddon? Cancer is far more likely to kill you than autism is!
A is for Autistic…
Many will say one should not refer to oneself or others as autistic because autism doesn’t define. But here’s the thing. Actually, it’s not an insult. It’s a badge of pride.
Yes, pride. I am indeed proud to call myself autistic. Just as I am proud to call myself human, just as I am proud to call myself left-handed, a father, a husband.
None of those things define me totally either. But you know what they go some way to define me. They all have a part in providing a definition of who the person Richard Johnson Âû is.
A is for autistic. A positive, different and wonderful way of being.
A is for Âû….
Âû is a suffix to my name. It is an identifier. But it is more than that. Au the first two letters of autistic are also the chemical designation for the periodic element Gold. Autistics around the world have co-opted that idea. We are precious and integral to our society. We are elemental to it.
To really understand Âû go and check out the Autistic Union page:
I wear the Âû appended to my name with pride. It connects me tangibly with my tribe. My autistic tribe, that tribe I had longed for for so many years. That tribe that I can be a part of without feeling as though I am irrevocably different.
A is for Acceptance ….
Yes, acceptance. Acceptance is fundamentally an action that acknowledges that autism is difference, not wrongness. It fundamentally acknowledges that that is OK and doesn’t need to be changed. Acceptance is to be strived for, fought for, struggled for.
Awareness is not nothing, but in itself, it doesn’t seem to be anything other than having a little bit of information about something. It does not encompass the action of valuing the autistic person.
A is for Acceptance.
In real estate they often say Position. Position. Position.
In autism it’s Acceptance. Acceptance. Acceptance.
A is for Acceptance.