I Existthat was launched in 2008 in an effort to change the attitudes about people with Autism and to improve the lives of adults with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Particularly in the blogging world, I often read Aspies and people on the Spectrum who are very upset that they are not represented fairly. Many of them do not want to be regarded as puzzle pieces, or mysterious, or people who require fixing or who need the pity of others. When I read about their views, I am reminded that someday, my boys may feel that very same way. I don't want to view them as any of these either, but I do want to support them in any way that I possibly can. I have said before that the day my boys can communicate to me that they want me to back off from whatever I am doing that is offensive to them, I will do so. But you damn well better bet that until that happens, I will do everything in my power to continue to work on giving them that voice to tell me off with.
I just recently read from a blog that is devoting much of their musings to countering April's Autism Awareness campaigning with the argument that awareness is not needed, but support and accommodation are for people who are already living with autism. They raise some very valid points. Here is a blurb from one of her own campaign posters:
"...instead of "walking for autism", please consider walking alongside someone who is autistic. You can offer support in many ways: perhaps by reducing sensory stimuli in the environment you share, or waiting patiently for the person to process your questions. Or you might choose to join a cause of importance to autistic adults, such as efforts to stop the use of restraints in schools. Including us in decisions that will affect our lives and well being is good, too!" (Asperger Square 8)I respect her feelings and I would hope that my boys may grow to have a voice such as hers. I hope that she would respect my feelings that raising Autism Awareness still has a place. I think that there is room for both in our society. Action and support are most definitely in need for adults on the Spectrum.
But raising Awareness is the only way you can share your views to educate society and effect change. I will continue to do what I can to change the old stereotypes that are out there, so that my boys may live in a world where bigotry, bullying and abuse may never affect them. I will continue to pass on whatever information and knowledge I may learn to parents who are just entering this world of autism, so that they may be better prepared for the challenges that they will need to overcome to support their children. I think we all have a responsibility to do this. Call it awareness, call it accommodation, call it support. The root of all these words is Action. As long as people are doing something and not sitting on their butts crying about it, I don't care what word they use. * Please note that I am not being disrespectful to anyone who may be dealing with this diagnosis who may be grieving. I believe that it is a stage that many families go through. But hopefully it is only a stage and then you move on and get on with supporting the person you love who has autism.
I will close this off with a video that I just watched from the I Exist campaign. I will forewarn you that it may be difficult to watch for some. Please pass the link to this blog forward to continue our efforts to think differently about autism.