Monday, April 2, 2012
This Is What True Autism Awareness Looks Like-Shain Neumeier
THIS IS WHAT TRUE AUTISM AWARENESS LOOKS LIKE
If you are going to recognize April as Autism Awareness Month, then please, by all means, make yourself aware of the following:
Be aware that Autistic people are too frequently subjected to the idea that we are inherently incompetent, the idea that we are simply not trying hard enough to pass as non-Autistic, or both at the same time, and that each can do just as much damage.
Be aware that far too much effort is spent on making Autistic people try to be as non-Autistic as possible, regardless of our comfort level, rather than teaching us how to be functional and happy as ourselves.
Be aware that Autistic people are bullied, harassed and excluded by our peers on a regular basis, and all the while it is us being told that we have poor social skills.
Be aware that Autistic people in schools and institutions are restrained, secluded, overmedicated and tortured in the name of treatment or discipline, and that the law as it stands is inadequate to protect us from this.
Be aware that many Autistic people are abused and even killed by their families and caretakers, and that the public excuses these actions far too easily by portraying us as too difficult to deal with in any other way.
Be aware that, still, Autistic people are segregated from non-disabled society in institutional settings and sheltered workshops, even while cheaper, more effective options that respect our human rights and dignity exist.
Be aware that, despite the many assets that an Autistic mind has to offer, many of us are under- or unemployed because employers, and educators before them, have been fixated on our deficits and not our strengths.
Be aware that many – too many! – of the organizations that claim to represent the interests of Autistic people don’t truly represent us, but instead represent the views of people who want a world without us in it.
Be aware that Autistic people’s voices are consistently dismissed in the discussions about what should be done about and to us, with those of us deemed “high-functioning” told they aren’t Autistic enough to know what people like them need as a whole, and those of us deemed “low-functioning” treated like they are too Autistic to know what’s for their own good.
Be aware that every Autistic person, no matter how severe their autism may be, is a human being who deserves dignity and respect.
Be aware that we can hear you when you say we stole your real children, when you say that we are empty shells, when you say that we are burdens, when you say that we are better off dead, and it hurts us to hear as much as it would hurt anyone else.
Be aware that the scaremongering that says that Autistic people are hopeless, that our lives are depressing, that we can’t hope to lead productive and happy lives as we are is just that, and doesn’t have to be true.
And lastly, be aware that you can be part of making life better for Autistic people by working with us to change the world into one that accepts and values us.