I know many people who actually are autistic despise Autism Speaks and I get that. I'm still going to "light it up blue" for awareness this month. It's important that we start seeing all people, not just neurotypical people, as people.
My friend, Heather Rae Gratton, wrote this and has given me permission to share it here.
Today is World Autism Awareness day!
To be completely honest, I struggled with how to participate today. I know the majority of people will be "lighting it up blue" and I love seeing so many people talking about autism today and showing their support. However, what most people don't know is the the organization behind "light is up blue" is Autism Speaks and at their core they do not truly support autistic individuals and their families. The more I'm learning about them the more I'm not comfortable with their message of fear and despair associated with autism and presenting the lives of autistic people as tragic burdens for their families (There are a BUNCH of other issues I have with them. See here and here.). When I worked in the autism field before I had my boys I never thought twice about it or looked into it. I simply never thought to question them.
But now I have two autistic boys and I have a completely different perspective on what "autism support" means. YES, I want to find ways to ease their many struggles due to autism and yes many days are harder than I ever imagined. Yes, yes, yes there is a need for more awareness and support! However, I do not wish to "cure" my boys. I can't imagine who they would be if their brains didn't work they way they do. It's so much of their personalities and what makes them, well, "THEM". They do not have a disease. Simply put*, their brains are wired differently than non autistic people. That is all. (*autism is obviously more complicated than I can state here briefly so please don't misunderstand my use of the word "simply" but it is NOT a disease like polio etc)
For World Autism Awareness day my wish would be a world where my boys do not think something is "wrong" with them or we have to find the "missing pieces" for them to be whole but a world that understands they are complete individuals as they are and yes, different.......but it is OK! (and back that up with more education for the general public/school system and support for families and autistic individuals)
As I mom I want to help my boys THRIVE not "fix" them. I want them to embrace their individual unique strengths and learn how to overcome their challenges. I want them to grow up in a world that embraces "neurodiversity" not just "supporting autism". A world where we CELEBRATE minds that work differently not fear them.