It’s April 2nd, and by now, you may have seen promotional material branding this day as Autism Awareness Day, or this month as Autism Awareness Month.
Autism Awareness was originally branded by the company Autism Speaks, with the purpose of spreading awareness. This went over without question for years, understandably so, because there was a time when Autism was a relatively unknown neurotype. But we’re aware now, and it’s time for acceptance instead.
Many Autism-positive organizations, especially the Autism Self-Advocacy Network, have been asking for years to rebrand Autism Awareness Month as Autism Acceptance Month. (You can read more about that here: Autism-Society.org/releases/media-urged-to-recognize-shift-from-autism-awareness-month-to-autism-acceptance-month-this-april or here: SpeakingOfAutismcom.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/this-april-go-redinstead-for-autism-acceptance)
Besides the obvious need for acceptance, another huge reason to drop “Autism Awareness” is because of its ties to Autism Speaks. I won’t get into all the reasons to drop support for Autism Speaks, as this information has been made available by others, at least a thousand times over. So, instead of speaking over others who have already done this work, I’ll provide a few links for anyone who has not heard yet.
- Boycott Autism Speaks
(A basic starting point site.)
- Before you donate to Autism Speaks, Consider the facts
(a PDF summary of the research, distributed by the Autism Self-Advocacy Network)
- Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group?
(an article by activist Amy Sequenzia)
- Why I Do Not Support Autism Speaks
(a post by Kaylene on the blog AutisticMama)
- An Unholy Alliance:
Autism Speaks and the Judge Rotenberg Center
(an article about the abusive “therapy” practices supported by Autism Speaks, written by activist Lydia Brown)
(Trigger warning for the above source, as it goes into detail about some of the physical abuse.)
- Why I boycott Autism Speaks, and you should too
(a Medium post by Accalia Baronets)
- Exposing Autism Speaks
(a letter in Autism Parenting Magazine, by the magazine’s editor, Leslie Burby)
(The above sources are written and/or published by people who actually have Autism, not just by researchers who look at Autism from a distance.)
To learn even more about the real experiences and needs of Autistic individuals, try checking the #ActuallyAutistic tag on social media.
If all of this is new information to you, and you’re looking for organizations to support instead of Autism Speaks, please consider one of the following:
And one more thing:
If you are part of a group or in a situation where you are being encouraged to decorate your place of business in blue this month, or to wear blue for the “Light it up Blue for Autism” campaign, please know that Light it up Blue is also connected to Autism Speaks, and try Red Instead. (I recommend taking a look through the #RedInstead, #LightItUpRed, and #WalkInRed tags on social media.)
Thank you for reading, and remember this April to not just be “aware” of Autistic people, but to learn about and from them, and accept them for who they are.