It’s that time of year again, when the non-autistic people (allistics) celebrate what they call “Autism Awareness Month” because of the stigma surrounding autism. Stigma which, if you’re not aware, only exists in the first place because of misinformation, the exploitation of actually autistic people at their most vulnerable, and the existence of “Autism Awareness” observances.
There are two communities when it comes to autism, illustrated well by Michelle Swan: the autism community and the autistic community.
Difference between autism community and autistic community
If you’re not autistic, you’re part of the autism community, i.e.
- allies of autistic people
- parents of autistic people
- extended family of autistic people
- professionals who work with autistic people
- anyone who thinks they know anything about autism
If you are autistic, you’re part of the autistic community.
If your child is autistic, but you are not, then your child’s community is the autistic community, while yours is the autism community.
The autism community is louder, but out of line when it comes to speaking over actually autistic people
Take, for instance, rich people speaking over poor people. Or white people speaking over black people. Or Americans who don’t respect Native American traditions speaking out against remaining tribes and criticizing them for not wanting the pipeline.
Or being mansplained to, if you’ve ever been ‘splained to by someone who identified as a man.
Or able-bodied people speaking over disabled people.
The latter is more akin to what happens when the voices of “autism caregivers” are highlighted, instead of stories told by actually autistic people.
Autistic people don’t need autism awareness; we need autism acceptance
The misinformation is appalling. It’s what led to an aunt of mine defaming me to Charlise with quite incriminating, well, shit. Because misinformation means a minority is an easy scapegoat in crises, so obviously autistic people are keen to bomb theaters or massacre students. Because we haven’t feelings, because when we share family’s Facebook posts, it’s not a compliment—it’s deemed stalking. Because when we try to live our lives to the fullest, we’re ridiculed for coincidentally doing something similar to another person in our family.
Because misinformation spreads lies, making us an easy target. Because what are the chances that we’re going to find out you’ve been making up lies about us, or exploiting us during our most vulnerable moments?
Guys, I’ve been nitpicked for the amount of hair on the floor that fell out of my head at the worst depths of my eating disorder, as if it wasn’t traumatic and I was low-key panicking—criticized for it because I published a crowd-sourced post that the aforesaid aunt surmised was an attack on her family.
This is why we need acceptance. This is why we need our voices raised, rather than those who care for us or love us or think they truly know us.
This is why we need corporations and big-time influencers, like Twitter, to acknowledge our existence and not hide us when we use the #actuallyautistic hashtag more than a few times each day to connect with our community.
This is why we need social media platforms, like Twitter, to not side with able-bodied, non-autistic people who use their superiority—as awarded to them by society—in life to bully actually autistic people, only to report the autistic people for bullying/targeted harassment when we stand up for ourselves.
Because privilege allows the majority to ‘splain to us all they bloody want.
Because, akin to when men are offended by “mansplaining” or white people when called “racist”, the autism community is offended when we tell them they’re wrong.
And we’re supposed to feel shitty for it, as if we’re just supposed to accept their wrongdoings and be okay with that.
As if we’re supposed to be okay with the justifications of autism community regarding caregivers who murder autistic people.
Because “World Autism Awareness Day” only exists for non-autistic caregivers and loved ones of actually autistic people to feel better about themselves.
Guess what? You’re not supposed to feel comfortable when we call you out on your BS.
Again, shame on you, Twitter. You still haven’t gotten it: Your site is still not safe for minority groups; you’ve still not done better.
Correct your ignorance/denial: It’s neither Autism Awareness Month or Day, but Autism Acceptance Month and Day.