Saturday, March 31, 2012

Autism "Awareness" That Hurts Autistics

by Nadine Silber and Jane Strauss

I know that people have good intentions with the whole Autism Awareness month thing but well, the thing is that, a lot of people, our family members included, don't really like being treated like a "cause." It is also very hurtful to many Autistic people to be described as part of an "epidemic" and have Autism be described as a parent's "worst nightmare." I can't even have the TV on in my house right now. I don't want Rafi, who is being raised to like himself and be okay with his differences, while working around his challenges, to hear other people describe him as a tragedy. I am teaching them about the misconceptions, and about how many people do not understand us, but those words are so hurtful. I'm not sure why people don't realize that these things are hurtful - I guess they just are not able to put themselves in our places. (While they say that it is we autistics who cannot put ourselves in others' places- anyone get my confusion with this?) 

This is all I ask - before you light up blue, or cover your car in puzzle ribbons or comment publicly on the "epidemic" please take a moment and think about how it might feel if you were a young person who just would like to be treated nicely and be accepted and your parent was doing that stuff. Or better yet, talk to your kid about it. Even if they can't answer it does not mean they don't understand. 

Autism awareness should start with being aware of the feelings of Autistic people, in my opinion at least. Thanks for the good intentions though - I realize that most people do it out of love. I'm not judging anyone - I honestly just think that most people haven't thought it out that well. I do also realize that to get public and private money you have to be dramatic but I think that the effect in the end may be that you unintentionally cause society to devalue Autistic people which would be just as bad as not having any funding. Anyway, please take the money you might spend on the blue light bulbs and the puzzle ribbons and put it away for your child's future. Thank you.


  1. Or donate to ASAN or another organization that really HELPS people on spectrum!

  2. Great article! You said it better than I could.

  3. Excellent post -- you should submit it to any sites that seem even somewhat applicable. (The ones that came to my mind are Salon, Slate, and Mommyish; parents likely know plenty of parenting-oriented ones that might take it.)

    I hope that you and all of the other parents hanging out here have luck keeping the "awareness" from harming your kids' self-worth.

  4. Being on the spectrum I like your side of things. I for one am all for it! I really wish parents would not get scared that their child was diagnosed on the spectrum or anything remotely related to it. They should be like mine and be relieved.


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