Autism Acceptance Month
April is the international month to celebrate Autism Acceptance. During the month of April every year, the spotlight of the world is on Autism, through social media, mainstream and print media. In our communities, in our schools, across society, individuals and organisations come together to celebrate difference. In reality every day should be acceptance of difference.
I am often asked how to support the Autistic community and be an ally. There are so many incredible ways you can keep the Autistic community, and there are certain things you can NOT do that will also support the Autistic Community.
Autism Acceptance – Please Do NOT:
Light It Up Blue
Please do not light it up blue to celebrate Autism Acceptance. The “Light It Up Blue” theme originated in an “Autism Speaks” campaign, which has had a very negative, medicalised view of Autism as something that needs to be cured/eradicated. Many in the Autistic community ask that others do not “Light It Up Blue” as the harmful pathologizing narrative on Autism is amplified by such campaigns intended to light pathways towards cures for Autism.
Many in the Autistic community see Autism/Autistic experience as a difference/disability.
Please do not use Puzzle Pieces as symbols to represent Autism or Autistic Experience. The Puzzle piece as a symbol has a long history of use by non-autistic led organisations and groups. It also A majority of the autistic community has rejected the puzzle piece due to its history being used by organisations run by neurotypical or non-autistic people that claim to speak for autistic people or that are the experts on Autistic experience.
The Puzzle piece as a symbol has long been associated with the notion that there is a “piece” missing from Autistic people, that the missing piece may, in fact, be the final link to a “cure” for Autism. The majority of the Autistic community rejects the notion that there is a “piece” missing from our selves as Autistic human beings, and furthermore the majority reject the idea that as Autistic individuals we need to be “cured”.
Autism Awareness Language
Please do not use language such as “Autism Awareness” or supporting others to be “aware” of Autism. In times gone by, in particular pre-internet, pre-social media, and pre-global access to information, there was a need for awareness of Autism as we need not have the information so readily available as we do now in a matter of seconds information on Autistic experience is readily available.
Use language of “acceptance” or ” appreciation” of Autism / Autistic experience instead.
Silence Autistic Voices
Please do not silence Autistic voices. Even in 2023, I regularly see events online or in person where non-Autistic individuals are given centre stage on Autistic lived experiences. Instead of taking the mic from Autistic voices and effectively silencing them, we need to centre Autistic voices, be Autistic-led, and amplify Autistic professionals, social media posts, and articles. Support Autistic organisations, book Autistic consultants and collaborate with Autistic individuals.
Autism Acceptance Month – Please Do THIS:
Amplify Autistic Voices
Instead of taking the mic from Autistic voices and effectively silencing them, we need to centre Autistic voices, be Autistic-led, and amplify Autistic professionals, Autistic Advocates, their social media posts, and articles. Support Autistic organisations, book Autistic consultants and collaborate with Autistic individuals. Listen to and amplify Autistic voices.
Use Red Instead Or Light It UP Gold
You can celebrate Autism Acceptance month without using a colour but if you wish to use a colour, using Red or Gold is accepted by the majority of the Autistic community.
The Autistic community chose to go “Red Instead” as a counter to the “Autism Speaks – Light It Up Blue” campaign. Many Autistic people prefer to use the Gold Infinity Symbol or Rainbow Infinity Symbol to self identify as Autistic. Many Autistic people also like to use the chemical element for gold Âû as part of their Social media profiles.
Donate to Autistic Led Charities
You can support the incredible work for the Autistic community by donating to Autistic led charities. I am a training officer with AsIAm – Ireland’s National Autism Charity. An Autistic-led charity that in my opinion is changing the narrative on Autism for the better and supporting the Autistic community directly. You can find out more about AsIAM by going to www.asiam.ie
Use The Infinity Symbol
For reasons mentioned above (See Puzzle Piece) many in the Autistic community prefer to use the Infinity Symbol to represent Autistic experience.
Use language of Acceptance
For reasons noted above (see Autism Awareness), Autistic people prefer the language of acceptance, appreciation of Autistic experience.
I hope you found this post helpful. For more information on Autistic experience, please go to my social media.