I understand that today is World Autism Awareness Day. All across the world nations are supporting the cause: the Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House are lit in blue, radios and news stations are conducting interviews and spreading awareness. But what exactly are they spreading?
The single largest autism awareness campaign most likely in the world is that run by Autism Speaks. For those of you who have browsed my blog before, you probably are aware that I am not a supporter of this supposed charity. I do not doubt that their message is very widespread and that autism has been brought into a new light because of them, I just take issue with their message. For instance, one of the radio reports that I heard yesterday was sponsored by Autism Speaks. After a brief interview discussing the Empire State Building lighting the radio proceeded to spread awareness by notifying its viewers that “1 out of 110 children suffers from the disease.”
We get one day a year in which all eyes are on us, and we spend it gaining pity by spreading lies? There are exactly three things wrong with that statement: First of all, 1 out of 110 children has an autism spectrum disorder, not autism. I am autistic but do not have autism. Secondly, what ever happened to “autism is not a disease?” I would think that the very core belief of Autism Speaks would have translated in an interview. Thirdly, and most importantly, who is suffering here? I do not suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, in fact, I would argue that everybody else suffers from NOT having Asperger’s Syndrome. Autistic people do not suffer. There may be moments in which we experience frustration, anxiety, or fear, but we do not suffer.
The people who do suffer are, as I find Autism Speaks consistently preaches, the parents of children with autism who are frustrated because they cannot understand their child. I think it is these people who could most benefit from Autism Awareness Day, as perhaps they might be able to learn a thing or two about their child and how to enjoy life with him or her (As to you parents out there who have learned to celebrate your child and his or her accomplishments, I applaud you.).
The fact that Autism Awareness Day is abused as a pity-seeker by organizations such as Autism Speaks upsets me, as I view the day as a celebration of autism, in which we may show ourselves off to the public and say “I have autism, and look what I can do!” Just because we are lighting the world blue does not mean we should be mourning. With that I say to you all, Happy World Autism Awareness Day!
NOTE: I am selling elephants for autism! For more information, please see my previous post (April 1).