It is April 2nd, the day dedicated by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness Day or WAAD,
and as usual the community has erupted into its annual disagreement about what the second A* in WAAD should be about.
And whether or not we should “Light it up Blue” in April to make sure the normals pay attention to Autism.
Blue is actually a really good word for Autism. Because in Australia (where I was born and raised) blue can have several meanings:
For a start it means unhappy, but I think everyone knows that. And for the first 12-24 months after you find out your child has autism, you will probably feel a bit blue. That’s okay.
You have to grieve your loss of expectations before you can accept the reality you have, and start building new ones. So be blue, talk to people who understand, eat chocolate biscuits and get used to it. It really does get better, I promise.
A “blue” in Australian vernacular also means argument. When my children were first diagnosed and we went through a bit of a stressful time as a couple; my Dad in his direct and blunt way said:
“Are you two blueing?”
As it happened we were, but it was because I was in complete denial and my husband wanted to get Liam checked out. So yes, we did blue a bit for a few weeks and months. We still do, but we get over it.
Autistic people like my son may have a tendency to use blue language or swear words when upset or even just when they are scripting! (scripting is when a person recites from memory their favourite lines from a movie or tv show)
It is usually based on the reaction they got the first time they said it.
They may have heard them anywhere and it is really hard not to react, particularly when they use them in context (!!!) (but the only way to eliminate this is by not reacting at all)
Liam can give you a synopsis of which F-words, C-words, B-words or D-words are used in any particular movie and which actor says them. Quite a skill.
The next great meaning of blue is “mistake” and this is my second favourite.
“I’ve made a bit of a blue” is a way of saying “I f****d up”
I love it because admitting you are wrong is often the first step to getting it right. I did it when I was a sales rep and customers loved it. Because it acknowledged the mistake was all mine and that I was going to fix it and it made them trust me even more.
It autism world we all make mistakes. We follow the wrong paths to intervention that might not suit our individual kids. We listen to the wrong people. We might even ally ourselves with one group of purists and then realise that actually what they are promoting is not quite the right fit.
We take things too seriously or we sit back and let things go too long. But making mistakes means you are trying. Admitting you have made mistakes makes it easier for you to move on, to accept that nobody is perfect.
And finally, my favourite meaning of blue is when it means to be honest, decent and straight. If someone is “True blue” it means you get no bullshit**
That is a perfect way to describe Autistic people. They are who they are. They don’t mess around with hidden agendas, they might be blunt (ahem) but they won’t lie or cheat you.
So be blue, go blue, take blue back from the organisation that won’t admit they have made some gigantic fricken blues
Parenting is a game of trial and error. As long as you always have your child’s best interests in mind, and you spend their resources of tolerance, interest and trust wisely then a little blue here and there will do no harm.
But please try and stop blueing for a month. We’re here, we matter, get used to it.
*my chosen A is Acceptance. So for the rest of the month I will be offering up my blog for guest posts by autistic people who can teach us all that Autism is no tragedy. In fact it can be rather cool.
**one of my friends wrote a recommendation for me on LinkedIn that described me exactly this way.