Some of you may know that April is Autism Awareness Month. In fact, today, April 2, is Autism Awareness Day. You may have seen people wearing puzzle piece ribbons, or "lighting it up blue fpr autism" by wearing blue or turning their porch lights blue.
What you may not know is that there are a lot of people with autism, and their friends and family members, who dislike or have mixed feelings about "autism awareness."
A lot of people feel that Autism Awareness, when promoted by certain autism-related organizations, focuses on autism being a really bad thing that everyone wants to get rid of as soon as possible. People participate in walk-a-thons and other fundraisers to raise money for research that will find the "cure" for autism. Autism is often presented as a disease that steals the lives of children and families... not that autism kills people, at least not directly, but that eliminates any chances of the children and their families have of living a "normal" life.
I used to follow along with Autism Awareness and even participated in one of the walk-a-thons when I was younger. But the more I began to read books, articles and blogs about it, the more I began to understand why many autistic people and their loved ones are against this movement.
Would I like to see autism eliminated? No. I would not like to see myself, my friends and fellow bloggers, and many of the children I've worked with over the years, eliminated.
When I think about the future of autism, I hope for a world where children with autism spectrum disorders don't get bullied or left out by their peers because they are different. A world where people with autism can pursue their favorite interests, and have their talents and abilities appreciated. I would like to take away the idea that people with autism cannot hold jobs, drive, have children, or live on their own. I would like to see that every person with autism has a way to communicate with others... whether that is with their own voices, with augmented communication devices, with letter boards, with PECS pictures, with sign language, or with whatever methods can be discovered... and that these methods become as acceptable in society as voices are. I would like to see families that include kids with autism get all the services they need in order to thrive. I would like to see people with autism living life to the fullest!
I was reading the blog Mind Retrofit, and she mentioned that some people have started "taking back" the month of April, including April 2, by celebrating Autism Acceptance Day/Month instead. She wrote about wanting to "turn it on 'rainbow' or light it up 'kaleidoscopic' for the month of April.” That made me think about drawing a new symbol that could represent autism in a positive way, not as something that needs to be cured, but as something that needs to be understood, accepted and appreciated.
But then I also started thinking of other bloggers who have, or whose children have, things like Tourette Syndrome, learning disabilities, or Sensory Processing Disorder. I thought about my blog post from the other day about mental illness. And I decided I wanted to draw a picture that would represent neurodiversity, or the idea that all of our brains work in different ways.
So this is what I drew:
What do you think?
Let me know if you think anything else should be on it...I could work on it a little more if you have suggestions. If you like it as it is, feel free to use it as a blog badge, post it on Facebook, or whatever else you want to do with it.
In the mean time, thanks to all the people who have taken my blog reader survey! If you haven't, you still have two and a half more days to take it! I will be publishing the results on April 5 for my Blogaversary. I am really grateful for everyone who has participated so far!
OK. I am so bad at ending blog posts smoothly. So uh.. look over there! (::turns and runs away::)