Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Awareness is not enough!
So, today marks the start of 'Autism Awareness Month.' Tomorrow is officially World Autism Awareness Day.
Awareness. Awareness is a good thing, it's the first step in the ladder really. However, most people are 'aware' of autism, you all know it exists. Does it do any good just to be 'aware?' After all, I am 'aware' of rocket science, but what good does that really do?
Awareness is good, but in reality, all Autism Awareness Day does is draw attention to the fact that autistic people are different. It focuses on them for everyone to see. But what does it TEACH people?? What does lighting a building up blue actually do for autistic people?
Nothing, is the short answer.
What autistic people need is acceptance. Pure, unadulterated acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that sometimes their behaviours are different. Acceptance of the fact that autistic people are forthright with their words. Acceptance of the fact that their brains are, to put it simply, wired differently.
You cannot try and change this, autism has no cure. But 1 in around 68 people are autistic. That's a lot of people. Yet still autistic people, children and adults alike, are bullied, ridiculed, mocked and laughed at because they think differently. No amount of autism awareness is going to change that. These people who bully are usually aware that they are bullying an autistic person, it doesn't stop them.
However, a shift in the way that people think and view autistic people WOULD make a difference. A shift to ACCEPTING that autistic people are still people, people who live, love, laugh, cry, bleed, hurt and breathe just the same as all of us, but they just are a little different in their thinking and behaviour. Accepting that and allowing autistic people to be themselves, THAT is what is needed.
Awareness is good, but only if it leads to acceptance. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time.
Don't just be 'aware' of autism. Be accepting of it, of how it manifests itself, of how it makes autistic people think a bit differently. Most of all, remember, it makes autistic people DIFFERENT, NOT LESS. Never less.
Autistic people are not stupid. Just because some may be non verbal, it does not mean they are stupid. Far from it. Just because some autistic people flap their hands, it does not mean they are stupid. Far from it.
Autistic people have as much right as anyone to be who they are. But they cannot comfortably do that until the world accepts who they are AND what they have to offer.
It is the 21st Century. Things need to change and change now. You can all help with that change.
People are too quick to judge anyone who is not 'ordinary.' The fault lies with those who judge, not with those who are being judged.
Autistic people do not need to change, the world needs to change. It is not impossible, if the world wants to do it.
Autism Awareness is good, Autism Acceptance is a necessity. Total acceptance, not just token. Total acceptance. Nothing less will do.