Last April I spent very little time online. The Autism Speaks/Light It Up Blue posts started early and kept going strong throughout the month. That upset me by itself, but I had also just gotten involved in some autism communities online and with so many people in those being depressed by the constant references to us being a problem and a crisis and a burden, it was just one big downer month. I checked in enough to see how people were doing so we could support each other, but tried to just avoid reading posts on social networking sites. I didn’t want to know which of my friends supported an organization that wants to eradicate people like me and yet is the first name that comes up when people start discussing my neurology.
If you’re not already in the loop on this, Autism Speaks is pretty terrible and hated by much of the adult autism community. They engage in fear-mongering and gimmicks like this Light It Up Blue thing to draw attention to their organization. One of their ads featured a mom with her daughter in the room talking about how autism is so scary-bad she wanted to kill herself and her daughter but stopped only because she also had a neurotypical daughter. It’s messed up. The numbers they use for their “epidemic” include all levels and types of autism, but then they act like autism is this horrible debilitating thing that is ruining families and shut out any voices of autistic people with the idea that we don’t really count, because if we were really autistic we wouldn’t be able to speak for ourselves.
But all of that is kind of irrelevant. I don’t think my friends who participate in this day and month are doing so with all that in mind. They want to help, and that’s cool. What really bothers me is when autistic people speak up about how this day and month are hurtful, and a flood of offended neurotypical parents respond by telling us we’re wrong and just don’t understand. Look, do what you want, celebrate whatever days you want however you want. But when people tell you how they feel, listen and recognize that as valid. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are, participating is hurtful to at least some of us. That doesn’t mean you have to agree or stop, but don’t push and invalidate their feelings. If you do that, re-think your motivations, because being so committed to your chosen method of support that you’re willing to add to autistic people’s pain kind of makes it look like you don’t actually care about helping them at all.
Anyway. This wasn’t meant to be a rant. Mostly I’m here to say that I’ve decided not to disappear this year. Instead I’m going to put off the posts I had planned and focus on autism-related topics for awhile. I know I’ll be doing a review of Rain Man, which I finally watched for the first time last week. Probably a post on how I think autism makes me well-suited for ministry, since it’s much more common for me to worry about the possible difficulties.
Other than that, I’m interested in what other people want to know. I talk about autism a lot (more on social networks than on the blog/s), but I feel like I might repeat a lot of the same information. Have you ever wanted to know more about something I’ve written on the subject? Or have questions I haven’t touched on at all? Any interesting related topics you’d like me to discuss? Let me know. Thank you!