As another April winds down and all of the amped up Autism awareness antics die down we MAY resume our normal lives.
There was a time when I believed that “awareness” was a worthy cause. It quickly became very clear however, that what I considered Autism awareness was very different than the ribbons and gaudy puzzle piece fanfare streaming on line and in the world. In 2010 our idea was to provide useful awareness. Information that children and adults could naturally utilize in every day life upon meeting or trying to make an Autistic friend. Not just a shallow icon or blue light directing you to empty “Autism awareness.” Not silly campaigns that do little else than exploit people as puzzles and point to Autism. As if we still need to ‘spotlight’ that Autism exists once a year. (?) Everyone is aware that Autism is in the world. What everyone may believe about Autism and what Autistic people experience or don’t experience… is where the awareness has gone all kinds of wrong.
Awareness as cheerleading. Rah Rah Rah instead of A~HA HA!
That is exactly what we saw early on in our on-line activity. A lot of color and enthusiasm with very little to ZERO useful information. Looking at puzzle pcs emblazoned onto every item imaginable does absolutely nothing to help my son navigate the world. More importantly it does nothing to help the world “navigate my son.” This black-hole of useful knowledge was precisely why we wanted to create informative art in relation to the Autistic cause. Using art as a vehicle for information is what AutismHWY is really all about and why we were in fact imagined and created. Meeting the Autistic community enhanced and expanded what we were universally feeling!
Partnering with actually Autistic people has empowered us and has strengthened our mission beyond belief. Listening to the Autistic voice is the platform we stand on and build upon. There is NO AUTISM AWARENESS with out information provided by actually Autistic people. The city of Covina has heard that authentic truth and has generously supported that amplification by partnering with us and helping us produce our annual CHALK FESTIVAL. That is what ACCEPTANCE and platform building look like. Not blue light shining and ribbon waving empty awareness campaigns driven by folks raising money while excluding Autistic architects and partners.
We NEED society to understand that the parents of Autistic people are really NOT the one’s that should be driving Autism Awareness. Many parents are stuck in that ‘main stream societal rut’ filled with misinformation which non-Autistic experts have delivered to us, concerning all things Autism. It’s time to LISTEN to Autistic people.