Dear Autism Speaks,
As the mother of a newly diagnosed child last year I was immediately referred to you. Some of the information you offer is sound, and some of the guides you offer were amazing in spelling things out for me I did not then understand. Immediately, however, I should have trusted my gut.
My son and all people with autism are not a group of people to be feared. They are a group of people to be loved; a group of people who do not deserve to have their humanity stripped away in the name of ‘raising money and awareness’ in a way that is hurtful and untrue to who and what they are.
The biggest thing we, as loved ones of people with autism and as citizens of the world, need to do is start building bridges of understanding, compassion, fairness and trust. The moment you remove humanity and reduce the struggle autistics go through to snippets of what is both their and most people’s most vulnerable and worst moments you demean your own cause to a point it begs the question what your real aim is.
Autism is not a disease. It is not cancer, polio, smallpox, malaria, diphtheria, chicken pox or the common cold. It is not something that should be spoken about in hushed, mournful tones. This generation and future generations to come should be as comfortable talking about autism as they are about discussing hair and eye color, for it is as much a part of their build as that.
This should be our promise to the current generations and those yet to come: We promise to give you the supports you need and the respect and dignity you deserve. It is our role as the guardian of the children being raised now with autism to give them security of self, something that will help them far more in the long run than any other single thing we could give them. If we teach them that their person; their voice is worthy and respected – no matter how they express it – then we’ll have already made this world far and away better.
We can do better. We are better. Stop demonizing autism. Open minds, open hearts and let the understanding begin so that healing can soon follow.
Just one blogger out there in the world.
It’s easy to preach, but hard to practice, right?
So there’s the challenge: I urge those who read this to practice understanding. I urge you to check out some amazing resources below and next time you see someone struggling in public or even in private, realize there might be something greater at play than you or I could ever guess at. Compassion pays itself forward with ease and you’d be amazed at the beauty it brings back into your life.