I read a good think piece this morning called When Autism Awareness is Not Enough. I agree with the assessment that ‘awareness’ is backfiring in some ways. The example given in that article included the latest fad phrase ‘ableist slur’, and I immediately spun into here we go, the line drawing and labeling and mud slinging being painted into our minds like a piece of artwork. And then it ends with ‘positive’ solutions.
This is my response, originally posted on facebook.
While I believe insight behind the scenes of ongoing problems is needed, I don’t agree with one of the methods given for solution. “Shaming” only makes things worse. Fighting negativity with more negativity is nearly the same thing as what happened in the first place. The other two methods are iffy, I think. Appealing to better nature- what if they don’t have one? You’ll only be a ball bouncing yourself off a garage door. Positive spinning the comment- you become the correction police, the moral compass, the judge. I’ve learned that kind of thing might bring peace, but one with a seething underbelly of gall against your ‘righteousness’.
Everyone is human. Everyone has something wrong with them. Most of us learn to hide our flaws at very young ages. We all need to be aware of each other. All one would have to add is “I’m glad he was able to get your file back, thank goodness.” Plant that seed. Gratefulness for the existence of neurodiversity starts by looking around and simply being thankful for people around us, even if they irk us silly. Look at them and notice what you *like* about them, not what they did or said wrong. Notice what makes them unique. Notice why you yourself feel the need to hate on someone who doesn’t do something right, and shame them if they don’t behave your way.
That is the root of human awareness. I think we need to skip all this stuff straight into human awareness. This comes to you from an #actuallyautistic person who is really tired of so many people missing what the whole neurodiversity movement point really is. It’s not us vs them. As long as we continue with the us vs them (either side), we all fail.
Autism awareness day, week, month- whatever, is coming up. My very first blog post on Autism awareness was April 3, 2008, called Autism AWARENESS?? I’d like to repaste it here. Many of you just getting into this whole awareness thing aren’t aware some of us have been front-lining for a very long time. Some things have changed in the last ten years.
Since this is Autism Awareness Month, as showcased on the xanga front page in a featured post, I’d like to share this small insight that is so SPECTACULARLY overlooked by the public in general.
I’d also like to share this little tidbit.
A teacher’s thoughts on Asperger’s.
(missing video, sorry)
I am autistic. I have autism spectrum disorder. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. These are all the same thing. Granted I am verbal and socially interactive, but I have come a long way in 40 some odd years. And funny thing, I didn’t need intervention or ‘help’. All I needed was for everyone to back off and let me be myself. Turns out I can run intellectual circles around everyone around me. I may not be able to handle hanging out at the mall very long, and I might embarrass you in public, and I might really annoy the heck outa you when it comes to debating a topic, but dang, at least I have a clue when it comes to problem solving and dynamics.
I was APPALLED at how misinformed so many people in the comments on that featured post were, even though some of them have spent years living with ASD people. It’s one thing to be ignorant because one isn’t exposed to information. It’s another to remain ignorant surrounded by it.
In light of such ignorance, I prefer being aspie, I thank God I am aspie, and I am so glad I am aspie. As much as I stumble around and seem to fall on my face socially and whatever, at least I am able to catalog and remember pertinent information, like what Asperger’s IS. I thought that’s why we HAVE brains. I don’t know if I can handle one more person using phrases such as ‘those people’ and ‘terrifying condition’ and ‘mental illness’ and ‘we found a way to fix it’ (referring to someone else in the family). O-M-G
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could ‘fix’ other people being cruel or bubbleheaded or bossy or codependent. I suppose if I were ‘normal’ I would be able to be those things better.
Sorry so crabby, but most of you out there have no clue you are not only SURROUNDED by aspies, but may even be aspie yourself. The latest guesstimate I heard was one in 150 people, which in any statistical book makes it FUNCTIONAL in society.
*walking off flinging my hands back and forth*
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of this ongoing stalemate. It’s time to take the bigger step into the human condition, and that is of labeling and categorizing. It’s one thing to do these things for medical and psychological health reasons, it’s another to do it as a matter of opinion and daily living. We are only hurting ourselves putting people into boxes, like sorting candies or fishing tackle. I don’t suppose it occurs to some of you that lines can be very blurry and that multiple labels can apply in some of the most seemingly unlikely places. I personally don’t need to know a person’s sexual or political orientation, religion, menu preferences, clothing style, hobby list, job category, social media presence, or cognitive functionality and mental acuity to treat them with dignity and respect. Like a human. So…
I’d like to lobby for a Human Awareness Century to be inducted into our thinking.
Some of you are looking at that feature pic going Sheesh, a minecrafter, and look, doesn’t even use a mod pack… This is an example of how silly some of you look to me with all your opinionating. We could all be looking at the same view, and invariably, negative commentary will sooner or later win out and start several movements for and against whatever. *wanders off to play minecraft*