Autism Acceptance, Good Jobs, and other Good Life Things

This is kind of a silly post since I expect to be making a video today or tomorrow. I hope that goes according to plan. But just a quick update thing here since last week wore me out and I didn’t do my weekly post…and because it’s almost April. Wow, how did that happen?

1. April and Autism Awareness vs. Acceptance
April 2nd is recognized by many as Autism Awareness Day, and April as a whole as Autism Awareness Month. You’d think that would be a good thing, but it actually makes the internet kind of a terrible and stressful place for a lot of autistic people. Some just announce right from the start that they’re going offline or at least off social media for all of April to protect their mental health. And since a lot of autistic people do most of their socializing and self-expression online, that can be more of a problem for them than you might think. (Given the popularity of media/tech sabbaths, I can easily see a lot of NT folks responding to this like “Wow, a whole month away from this useless addictive mess!? Good for them!” And it really, really isn’t.)

So some quick guidelines for making this month easier on autistic people, while recognizing that I obviously can’t and don’t want to speak for everybody.

A. April 2nd is strongly tied up with Autism Speaks, an organization that is often considered a hate group by autistic adults. No autistic members on the board, fear-mongering dehumanizing ads, focus on eradicating autism rather than supporting autistic people, generally a focus on how hard we make NT lives. Bad news. And on top of that, they’re the best advertised and most well-known autism-related group and therefore tend to speak over actual autistic voices. So when you “light it up blue” or talk about the need for awareness, it brings that group to mind and reminds us just how loud all that misinformation is and how many people buy into it. It makes (some of) us feel like we’re unwelcome and devalued among even our friends and family. So while it’s great that you want to share that support, keep in mind that it might be causing stress for the people you’re trying to help.

B. Acceptance > Awareness. Words matter, and one of the ways words matter is that in cases where two groups disagree on an issue you can immediately tell where someone is getting the bulk of their information. The idea of autism awareness is strongly connected to the idea that autism is an epidemic that needs to be understood and eliminated, that it’s this huge drain on families and society, that it’s coming for you. Autism acceptance is a movement led by autistic people that focuses on better educating people about autism from the perspective of autistic people. Instead of looking at it as a disease and talking about needing to end it, we might talk about supports that improve our lives, share our experiences so NTs can better understand and not find it so scary (and so autistic people can see others like themselves and maybe that will counteract the negative messages they’re getting), discuss contributions by autistic people, etc.

Obviously, using the word “awareness” doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or even that you agree with the things I mentioned being associated with it. But since it has those connotations for a lot of us because of Autism Speaks’ effectiveness at getting their point of view everywhere, and since most autistic people tend to use “acceptance,” it does seem likely most of your info comes from non-autistic sources that aren’t listening. Which isn’t your fault, necessarily, because AS has put a lot of money and effort into making sure they’re the loudest and most visible. You have to dig quite a bit to find other perspectives. But if you’re serious about supporting autistic people and helping them have better lives, that’s probably something you should do.

2. Spam spam spam
This is just a silly thing that really only affects me, but what’s with all these spam comments lately? The last time I had this many it turned out I had missed an Akismet update, but I keep checking and I’m up to date. And I’m getting 5-10 of these comments a day. If only I had even 10% as much actual engagement here, huh? 😀

3. Life/job/whatever
I got to baby-sit today and it was just amazing. My first real job was in a day care center and I’ve spent quite a lot of time working with kids, but it’s been quite awhile since I’ve been able to do that. After 8 hours at my current job I feel so wrecked I can’t really do anything. Even sleep is hard because I’m typically in a lot of pain and also still processing one-sided “social” interactions where the other person clearly does not see me as a human and thinks I don’t have feelings or worth. I spend my whole weekend every week trying to recover and nothing ever gets done.

After 11 hours of work today, I felt happy and full of energy and ready to tackle my to-do list. Just a really strong reminder of how I was before starting my current job and an affirmation of how much I need to be doing work that’s more people/relationship-oriented and where I feel like I’m doing some good. I’ve bookmarked a few jobs like that. The sticking point for all of them is that I need a driver’s license. So that’s where I’ll be putting most of my effort for the next few weeks. I hope I’ll have good news on that soon!

4. Religion Stuff
For someone who wants to work in ministry and started a blog about it, I’m pretty quiet about my personal beliefs. That’s mostly because I figure it doesn’t matter much to the work I want to do, since my religion is more about community through diversity and I’m not trying to teach my beliefs but helping people explore theirs. Also it’s a little hard to nail down the specifics, my thoughts on just about everything tend to be pretty fluid and religion is particularly floaty-blurry for me since I think it’s mostly metaphor.

But some things have been happening lately to change my views on that and I’m starting to see how personal theology affects people’s ministry and therefore being open about it is a good thing. So I’m working on it. Joining communities even if I don’t agree with everything they say and worry I won’t fit. Sort of realizing that I can give a sermon/talk/whatever from the standpoint of my personal belief system that still might speak to people whose beliefs are totally different. I’m used to seeking out a variety of religious voices and being inspired by people that are very different from me, so obviously others can do that with me. One of those obvious realizations that just skipped my mind because I’m used to thinking I’m just not all that interesting and don’t know why anyone would care what I have to say. 😀

(I’m working on that, too.)

———

So that’s the last two weeks in a nutshell. What’s going on with you, readers? Hope to be back later with a video. Topic: Springtime, Persephone, the symbolism of the underworld. It’s a little late (meant to have it last week), but it’s still early spring so it works.

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2 thoughts on “Autism Acceptance, Good Jobs, and other Good Life Things

  1. So much good stuff in this post. One of my FB friends has an autistic son, and she wanted everyone to wear blue for him. Then I saw others with autistic children say not to. Your point 1 helped me better understand this.

    I’m glad you enjoyed babysitting so much! Children really can be a lot of fun, huh? 🙂

    Sorry about the spam!

    And I’ve often told you that I find your posts interesting! 🙂

    Like

    1. Glad I could help. 🙂 Two years ago my Facebook feed was filled with Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue posts. This year only one. I think people are listening and understanding our perspective better, so that makes me happy.

      They really are. I hope I’ll get to have some of my own soon, but in the meantime getting to take care of other people’s was nice.

      It’s gone! I guess maybe they were working on it or something. A couple days after posting this I checked again and there was finally a new update. So now it’s only been about 3 spam posts in the past week. Much more manageable.

      I know, I appreciate that a lot. 🙂 Trying not to be so hard on myself and have some faith in my words.

      Like

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