How Not to Awareness

If you are a parent who is creating an “awareness” campaign and you decide you don’t want to involve autistic people… stop. Don’t do that thing you want to do. You don’t get to speak about us, without us.

And awareness… what a joke. Let’s not, shall we? Education is what you want to focus upon. Not some elusive Awareness Fairy so many people seem to think will magically educate people on all things autism if you can just manage to get enough people to post a gimmicky picture to social media using your hashtag. Not gonna happen.

No amount of silent selfies, red licorice challenges, blue-filtered userpics, or puzzle piece anything is going to teach people about what autism really is, how it affects me & my peers, the accommodations we may need, and how the general public can help push for supports & services needed by those of us who are autistic. Your gimmicks aren’t our solution. They don’t make you an ally and they don’t make you an advocate… they make you someone who is actively NOT listening to us about our needs.

And when we speak up to call you on your inactivism, then you decide to tell us to be quiet, delete our comments, or even BAN us from your community? You become the problem we are fighting against, rather than being able to use our energy and resources to be heard, we have to use them to talk OVER you… ABOUT US! About ourselves! There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

Over the last few days, a page which rhymes with “A Dear in the Strife of Pawtism” (I refuse to give them any traffic unless people want to get clever) decided to do all of that and more.

After taking literally hours out of my day today, to diplomatically (though firmly at times, when needed) explain to non-autistic people about why so many upset autistic people and their allies were crying out against the actions of said page… the page decided to ban me. And every other autistic advocate and ally.

This is after they deleted several posts of non-apologies and ablesplaining why their “campaign” wasn’t meant to be offensive and can’t we all just get along… effectively erasing the voices and dismissing the advocacy efforts of the very people they purport to be trying to help. So I call shenanigans on that entire page (which, by the way, is an exploitive use of their child’s life as a means to get attention for the parents by using the disgusting ploy of OMG LOOK HOW HARD IT IS TO PARENT AN AUTISTIC KID PITY US PLEASE).

As my friend Angelica summarizes perfectly: “Their whole ‘we didn’t ban people to silence them, just meant to diffuse the situation…’ response was total BS. Like seriously? Start a ‘silentselfie’ campaign and then silence the very people you’re pretending to support because they’re calling you out on a bogus campaign?

The whole comment thread was a vomit bucket of able-privileged parents refusing to listen to an entire community because they feel more comfortable living in their willful ignorance than actually owning up to their mistakes and taking the responsibility to make positive changes.”

And I call shenanigans on anyone else trying to raise/spread “awareness”. Let the Awareness Fairy disappear to the Land of Make Believe and start focusing on reality with the rest of us. Autistic people exist and we need real support and real services. So maybe you all can make a REAL effort to help us secure those, in order to adapt and thrive? Thanks.