As I write these words on March 30, I have been inundated with messages of autism awareness, of messages to be aware of autism. But what, dare I ask is there to be afraid of. After a decade of light it up blue and world autism awareness day it is certainly time we realised there is just nothing to be scared of.
What is autism to be scared of? It’s not a threat, or a virus or anything like that. It’s a different way of being wired, of seeing the world in a different way. Nothing to be afraid of.
There are absolute challenges to both living as an autistic and parenting autistic children. But it’s not something to be afraid of. Not one little bit.
It’s not autism that we should be afraid of, and it’s pretty much time we realised that everyone is actually aware that this thing called autism exists.
But there a different operating system is nothing to be afraid of now is it. You know you can do it, you’ve probably already done it before, Nokia to iOS, Android to iOs or Windows to Mac. Certainly, there is a learning curve to consider, absolutely some of the things have to be done a little bit differently. It is no question that challenges will come, and overcome.
Let’s face it that is what at its core autism is. A different operating system.
It’s not something to be afraid of. It’s something to simply accept and embrace as part of our human and social ecosystem. Just as workplaces adapt with different digital devices so humanity can adapt to divergent neurologies.
April 2 is coming, and there will be many who continue to fruitlessly turn on blue lights to make people aware. But that is not what we need to be aware of. What we need to be aware of is a far more insidious thing, sometimes overt and sometimes covert, even at times hiding under the guise of trying to help.
We should be aware of things like The President of the USA giving credence to a lie about vaccines and autism.
We should be aware of discredited, fraudulent, deregistered doctors running around promoting works of fiction as documentaries.
We should be aware of organisations that talk of cure
We should be aware of organisations that promote interventions that aim to convert the autistic into a neurotypical
We should be aware of any organisation that has the word aware or awareness in its name.
We should be aware of movie stars that try to lecture us on the causes of a neurological divergence
We should be aware of anyone who talks of epidemic
We should be aware of anyone who talks of lost generations
We should most certainly be aware of anyone who uses phrases like hating autism.
Yes, there are many things we should be aware of. But not one of them is autism.
What should we be then? We should be accepting, embracing, celebrating and accommodating.
We should be presuming competence. Harnessing the gifts and abilities of neurodivergent people.
Forget autism awareness. Please. Embrace Autism acceptance and celebration.