Awareness is Empty
This month happens to be April. One of the many causes assigned to this month is autism awareness. I'm married to an aspie. We have three autistic children.
Being "aware" of autism is about as helpful for autistics as posting your bra color in your facebook status is for curing breast cancer. A well known autism charity likes to champion their feel good cause with pictures of children and alarmist catchphrases about how tragic and dream crushing autism is, and how we need to cure it now. I really hope that this community doesn't need a lengthy explanation (although I can also cite sources, if you like) about why the notion of curing autism is as offensive and misguided as a campaign for "ridding the world of nerds" might be. Let me know if you need more information on the heritable physiological structural brain differences that define autism, and the sensory and filtering challenges that determine an individual's struggle with the less advantageous sides to that type of brain.
You know what's more appropriate than autism awareness? Autism acceptance. Everyone is born with different challenges and different talents. Some people have very different reactions to sensory stimuli. Try to be sensitive to that. Allow people to be who they are without trying to force them into some arbitrarily shaped mold.
If you want to learn more about what it's like for autistic people, look up first hand accounts (and ask people you might know who are on the spectrum) - there are many accounts out there, and they're quite diverse. The more you read, the more you'll understand. I don't understand why people would think they're getting accurate information about autism by searching the website of an organization that actively excludes autistics from any board or leadership position. Then again, that organization touts operant conditioning as a therapy for autistic children, because apparently it's better to force a child to seem normal than to understand why he acts in unique ways and help meet his unique needs.
Supporting the idea of neurodiversity doesn't mean that every difference is fantastic and easy to deal with. It's not.
Focusing solely on the negative aspects of anything can make you overlook the gifts that come with it. I take medication for my ADD to help with the challenges that come with that, but I certainly don't try to eradicate it (which would be impossible anyway). If my medication muted the positive aspects of ADD, I'd have to seriously reconsider whether it was worth it. Karate or dance lessons to help with the proprioceptive challenges that can come with autism don't negate any positives, nor does compassionate speech therapy.
I won't be "going blue" this month for awareness, which does little more than promote a large corporation with questionable intent. I'm all for scientific research, but the agenda behind their funded research is highly suspect.
Do you have an ache to do something for autism whatever month? Tell a friend that instead of posting images of puzzle pieces, you're going to be more accepting of differences. If, for some reason, you really want to spend money on a cause, you could try something practical like buying an autistic kid a lego set (not one of my kids, though... I am so sick of stepping on those darn things). Obviously Legos aren't appropriate for all ages, nor for all spectrum kids... just ask the parents for guidance. Toys or fidgets relevant to the kid's interests are great, especially if they help the kid further develop their unique analytical skills.
If you really want to donate to some organization for some reason... there's an autistic self advocacy network.
Oh, and for the record...
normal brains don't change the world.