Autism Awareness Month is in October in Canada. Sure, we participate in the one in April, but this is just ours.
It’s sad (or good actually!) to say that most people don’t even know it is Autism Awareness Month in Canada right now. In many ways, it is good that people don’t know. That way they can’t ‘be-ware’ of us. Awareness doesn’t help us. It usually hurts us. The general public is given scary, pathologizing so-called facts about autistic people. That usually just makes the public more fearful and misunderstanding of us. How does that make us included and supported in the community or even in our families?
Is lack of awareness (that strikes me as funny!) about Autism Awareness Month in Canada a bad thing. In this case, I don’t think so. We don’t have as many pathologizing, fear inspiring posts to avoid, like we do in April. Social media is a mine field that we have to avoid in April.
The question should be, do we get rid of it (there is after all the April awfulness) or do we work on true Autism Acceptance and full inclusion in society? I could go with either one, although if we got rid of it, I wouldn’t have to figure out something to write! Just kidding- a little humour! So, if we keep it and change the name to Autism Acceptance Month, will that make a difference? I say, no. Not the way it is being promoted currently. It would be a change in name only as we are already seeing with some organizations. We need to see action. Welcome us and our stims, sensory issues, communication differences in your public places. Meet us where we are, don’t try to make us like you, the non-autistic person. Most of us like who we are and we shouldn’t have to change to fit someone else’s opinion of how a human should be like.
So far there are some autism organizations calling it Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. Really? If the organizations accepted us then they would listen to us. The majority of us want acceptance. We identify as autistic but they don’t listen to us when they continue to tell us we are with autism or we have autism. Why aren’t at least half their board members autistics and I don’t mean just the autistic person who seems to pass as non-autistic some of the time. I mean all autistics- speaking, non-speaking, high support, and everything in between. These organizations make it look like they are listening to us when they add the ‘acceptance’ part but we know they aren’t, especially when they still keep the awareness part.
So, Autism Awareness Month, I could take it or leave it. It really has no meaning to me. It is mainly a chance for organizations to say, look at us; see what we do.
photo reads Autism Acceptance in red font colour.