[Trigger warning: mention of suicide, murder, child abuse, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, racism, gaslighting, social media abuse, “cure” therapies, ABA, ableism, neglect, mental illness.]
We’ve reached the end of April. The end of Autism “Awareness” Month. The end of Autism Acceptance Month.
And it’s been a hard one. I’ve kept my interaction with social media somewhat limited, but have still managed to encounter much that has upset me.
The thing is, “awareness” doesn’t stop after April.
All year round, every single day:
- Somebody, somewhere, is working on a “cure” for something that isn’t even a disease or a problem.
- An autistic adult is being told that their views are not valid because they’re “not autistic enough”, or “not like my child”.
- Elsewhere, a non-verbal autistic person’s needs and views are being ignored because those around them presume them incapable of intelligent thought.
- An autistic child is getting the feeling that they’re “broken” and not the child their parents wanted.
- An autistic child is receiving stressful, traumatic conversion therapy to make them “normal” and remove their autistic “symptoms”.
- An autistic child is becoming seriously ill through being forced to drink bleach or overdose on vitamin C to purge them of “toxins”.
- Someone is talking, in all seriousness, about “vaccine damage”, and about autism being an “adverse effect” of vaccines.
- A parent or caregiver is contemplating murder.
- Somebody, somewhere is telling an autistic woman that they have no business calling themselves autistic because they, and others like them, have caused the diagnosis to be “dumbed down”.
- Female autistics, autistics of colour, and queer, trans and/or non-binary autistics are being told to “stop making it all about them” as everybody needs support.
- Somewhere, a media outlet is mocking autistic people and enforcing dangerous stereotypes.
- A harmful meme is being spread on social media, and autistics are being told to “lighten up” and “get over it” as it’s just a harmless joke.
- A healthcare professional is delivering an autism diagnosis to the parents of a child, and warning them of all the things that child will never do and explaining all the ways in which they are broken.
- An advertising campaign is doing exactly the same in a series of commercials, flyers, and posters.
- An “autism warrior mom” is lamenting her plight and desperately wishing that her child wasn’t such a burden.
- Another parent is battling educators, healthcare providers, insurers and local authorities to get the support their child so desperately needs, but that is so difficult to come by.
- An autistic teenager is contemplating suicide because they can’t stand the bullying any longer.
- An autistic adult is staring at another job application form, wondering whether to disclose or not, how they’ll manage an interview and wondering whether this time they might finally get lucky after so much rejection.
- Another autistic adult is trying to fend off the overwhelm and overload of working in an environment that’s uncomfortable, painful and overly-demanding of their senses and cognitive function.
- Yet another is wondering how on Earth they’re going to get the financial support they need to enable them to live.
- An ill-advised person in a position of power and influence is bemoaning the “autism epidemic” and wondering how on Earth it can be stopped; how autism can be put to an end.
And so much more. All over the world. Every day.
The scourge of “Awareness” never stops.
And so the work to promote Autism Acceptance must never stop. There is so much work to do.
Meanwhile, autistic people are living, loving, laughing, thinking, creating, caring, acting, performing, helping, supporting, advising, campaigning, sharing, uplifting, amplifying, celebrating, commiserating, learning, working, teaching, making, saving, rescuing, mentoring, encouraging, inventing, designing, innovating, suffering, shouting, crying.
And all the other things that humans do.
We’re here. It’s time to accept us, and appreciate us as a part of the world we, and you, all live in together.
Thank fuck April’s nearly over.
But the struggle never stops.
As for me, I’m going to have a bit of time off. My emotions, and my hyper empathy, have been, well, hyper, this month. I’ve been up, I’ve been down. And I’m pleased I’ve managed to post an entire month’s worth of images, every day, to do my bit to promote Autism Acceptance and Appreciation. But it’s cost me, as has seeing all I’ve seen (and I haven’t seen the half of it, believe me).
So next month, I’m not going to be around much. I might post the odd thing; but I might not. I’ll see how I feel.
May will be a month of self-care. God knows I need it. And my family need me. My loving husband and my beautiful children will be my focus this coming month. Plus work, and a couple of long-overdue projects that really need my attention.
I’m going to have a rest from blogging, just for a short while.
Ta-ra for now, chums!
[Image description: Part of a lilac-painted living room with deep purple floor and white skirting boards. Mama Pineapple, a white femme-presenting person with red hair, wearing purple socks, blue leggings and a red, floral patterned tunic top, reclines on a brown leather sofa, one hand held over her forehead partially obscuring her face in a gesture of weariness. There are patterned cushions around her. Her other hand dangles down towards a white mug full of steaming coffee on the floor just in front of the sofa.A thought bubble above her reads “THANK F**K THAT’S OVER!”.
I’m very sweary, and would normally quite happily not star out the swear words, but I’m hoping doing in the featured image so might help the circulation of this a bit.]