AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH
Autism Month is fast approaching, so once again is the time of year when well meaning (hopefully) school administrations and educators start planning for it, if they are aware of it that is.
Unfortunately, despite the attention and extensive discourse Autism gains throughout April, it often runs exactly opposite to what Autistics within the community actually want.
Instead of Neurodivergent affirming supports and accommodations, we are still hearing about treatments and "cures".
Instead of hearing stories of champion pioneering Autistics, we are still hearing from parents and carers about their life struggles with Autistic children.
Instead of seeing red or gold, we are still seeing blue.
Instead of the rainbow or gold infinity, we are still seeing the puzzle piece.
As a result, this time of year can be a high stress, high anxiety period for many Autistics, keeping the wounds open from having our thoughts and opinions of our disability dismissed and ignored while those who don't experience it speak over us instead.
We have just gotten to the other side of the Disability Day of Mourning (March 1) where we recognise our fallen at the hands of these very same people.
International Women's Day was only four days ago (March 8) where the community spent a lot of time and energy validating and supporting much of our self diagnosed cohort of AFAB Autistics who are consistently denied official diagnosis because of the diagnostic bias continuing to favour boys even today in 2022.
And without being able to catch our breath... April is a few weeks away and Autism Parents and schools alike are out in their droves sharing proudly their puzzle pieces and shutting those down who share their discomfort at seeing them:
This April, I implore you to seek out the Actually Autistic communities and ask all the hard questions.
I encourage you to check out The Neurodivergent Teacher's free resources on Neurodiversity Spirit Week (March 21-27) which is the week directly following the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence (March 18).
This April, cast aside the notion of Awareness Month (colloquially referred to as Bewareness Month) and instead stand with us in turning the tide of the conversation away from the fearmongering and tragedy narratives.
This April, support the community with Autism ACCEPTANCE Month and on April 2, give recognition to the Autistics who changed the world on World Autism ACCEPTANCE Day:
-Alan Turing, who gave us the first computer, cracked the Nazi Enigma code and saved upwards of 21 million lives by ending World War II at least two years earlier.
-Satoshi Tajiri, who turned his first Autistic passion of bug collecting into the worldwide phenomenon that is the world of Pokemon.
-Albert Einstein, considered the world's most famous scientific minds.
-Greta Thunberg, famous from the age of 14 because of her relentless and unwavering advocacy for environmental protection and fighting for action against climate change.
-Hannah Gadsby, a now world famous, queer comedian from right here in Australia whose comedic style sends the message that not only is it OK to share traumas openly, it should feel safe to do so.
-Sir Anthony Hopkins, a prime example of what an Autistic can do when they have unbridled access to the resources they need to fully envelop themselves in their passions.
-Theodoto Ressa, a BIPOC University Professor who dedicates his life to training future educators and wrote an incredible piece on media representations of Autism and how teachers can critically evaluate these representations BEFORE they are integrated into their Autism knowledge and impact their perceptions of their Autistic students.
-Chloe Hayden, Autistic Activist, YouTuber, and actress, playing Autistic character Quinni on the upcoming Netflix reboot of Heartbreak High.
-Dr Jac den Houting of Macquarie University in Sydney, a non binary, Autistic academic who went viral in a Tedx Talk describing Dr Damien Milton's Double Empathy Problem, showing once and for all that Autistic communication is just as effective and valid as neurotypical communication.
It doesn't have to be me, but please seek out Autistics for your Autism knowledge rather than neurotypical parents, professionals, academics or organisations. Nobody knows us like we do...
"Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” - Benjamin Franklin