Have you heard it? The “Maybe” commercial that Autism Speaks and the Ad Council are promoting over radio airwaves in these final days of 2017?
We have and it is as obnoxious and misleading as any of their other “Autism Awareness” actions taken over the course of the organization’s existence.
The script for this radio ad goes something like this…
Maybe he isn’t a happy baby.
Maybe he is just being a boy.
Maybe he is teething.
Maybe he is just going through a phase.
Maybe he has… Autism.
No big smiles by 6 mos. of age IS a sign of Autism. Go to Autism Speaks for more info bla…bla… bla…bla
After a decade of #ActuallyAutistic people boycotting and speaking out against Autism Speaks using this type of stigmatizing assumption about Autism, against Autistic people, it seems they just cannot follow their own it’s time to listen “tag-line” of advice. Even after being systematically boycotted and shamed into placing the long asked for Autistic representation into it’s governing board of directors and removing cure from their mission statement, they just cannot help themselves. It’s nearly 2018 and they still insist on using harmful stigma to drive people to their website in fear of the newborn non smiley Autistic neurology. (?)
Babies do indeed have a unique non speaking communicative style which informs discomfort most readily. Sensory needs are a very easy thing to read when you pay close attention at 3 a.m. or high noon. All babies need swaddling to feel safe and they indicate that need for physical comfort at every given moment. Don’t forget that in life we all want to feel safe and may need swaddling at any stage or age. Our human systems crave comfort and flow. When that isn’t happening smiles are not happening, it’s a very simple equation. Don’t believe this rhetoric which brands and reduces Autistic people as unhappy sufferers that do not smile. It is this kind of “Autism Awareness” deemed marketable for this “charity” that sets Autistic people back. Bad information countered as real advice to people unaware of what Autism actually is and how it may or may not present itself within each individual’s system. In 2017 we can call this type of rhetoric as #FakeNews.
More importantly something to absolutely frown upon. As 2018 fast approaches it looks as if we will still be telling Autism $peaks that they must DO BETTER for Autistic people… by listening to Autistic people. Send people to your website without telling them that Autistic babies do not smile. Uncomfortable babies do not smile. Be more discerning with the language and attitudes your “Awareness Ads” contain. This year society is receiving a wake up call concerning oppressed and marginalized people that will represent their own truths because, they wish to be interpreted correctly! Not portrayed yet again by the truths of non-Autistic people that are guessing and assuming how they -think -feel and -react to this life. This beautiful life we all share… uniquely!
To my great pleasure over the last 18 yrs. and through our chalk festival event I have met hundreds of Autistic people and their families on line and in real life. Never once have I heard a person describe or assert that they themselves or that their child did not smile in the first 6 months of glorious life.