April is coming among us, not only does it mean that spring is coming, but it is also the start of Autism Awareness Month you may see many businesses and organizations break out the puzzle pieces and promoting "Light It Up Blue"'.
Many autistic individuals disagree with the blue and puzzle pieces, for reasons that I will explain further.
As an autistic individual, I am here to tell you that we can all do things differently this month, if you claim to be an ally for us then listen to us.
Don't Support Autism Speaks or Light It Up Blue
Autism Speaks is no doubt one of the most popular organizations, however, it is also the most controversial.
When I had the opportunity to intern for Study Breaks I wrote about why Autism Speaks is not a good organization, it really gave others insight into what the organization really was.
From the despicable ''I Am Autism" video that claims that Autism is worse than cancer and AIDS, and blames people like me for the reason why parents get divorced, ''Autism Every Day'' when that ''mother'' admitted that she wanted to drive her autistic daughter off a bridge while she was still in the room.
Not to mention the fact that they are called Autism Speaks but yet don't have a single autistic person on their board (the only one has since resigned), they really should rename it ''We Speak For Autism''
Seriously find a better organization to support.
There Are Better Therapies Than ABA
Believe it or not, we are not anti-therapy, like some people may think. We are only against abusive therapies like ABA, ''but my kid loves ABA'' that's what they want you to think in reality they are being taught that if they don't act the way their parents want them to then they won't love them anymore.
Yes your child may not have a meltdown at the grocery store but please realize that your child may not be happy because they are so overwhelmed by all of the sensory overload, that they just bottle it all up and it gets to be too much (i have been there!)
I know that different therapies can work for different individuals, it's not a one-size-fits-all, but if your child is being abused in their therapies then you better pull your kid out of that immediately.
Occupational therapy and speech therapy are good therapies to help your kid, occupational can help out with valuable life skills but still not force your kid to be normal, speech therapy can help with communication, (I loved my speech therapist!)
Respect Whatever We Choose To Identify As
Identity-first language vs person-first language has been a long time debate with the autistic community. Usually, neurotypical individuals try to tell us "no you aren't autistic, you have autism your disability does not define you''
A large majority of autistic individuals prefer identity-first over person-first when you say person-first you are trying to separate our autism from us, you make it sound like a disease that kills people which it's not. When you use identity-first then you see our worth, you see us, our struggles, our goals, our achievements, you see us.
Of course, it is up to each individual how they wish to identify as but if you arent autistic then please don't tell us how we get to describe ourselves.
Listen To Autistic Voices
There is no better way to learn about Autism than from someone who has actually lived it. They know what your child is going through, they can not only be a great role model for your kids, but they can also help you out as a parent.
Social media has become a great outlet for autistic individuals, for me, social media is how I came to discover many educational accounts created by actually autistic individuals.
Support Autistic Led Organizations
If you are looking to support an organization during the month of April here are some good ones that are not Autism Speaks
Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) run by autistic individuals, here they talk about the important issues
Stimtastic ran by an autistic person, has affordable stim toys, like fidgets, chewelry, stim toys, etc because stimming is a part of being autistic and should be celebrated.
Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (AWN) provides community, support, and resources for autistic women and nonbinary individuals. They also offer support to transgender people of all genders.
We Don't Want A Cure
There is no cure for autism and there will never be a cure for autism because it is not necessary. So stop injecting bleach into our bodies, it got so bad that the FDA had to get involved and say please stop this.
We don't want a cure, what we want is our quality of life to be improved.
So you see, wearing blue and sporting puzzle pieces doesn't make you an ally. What makes you an ally helping to improve our quality of life, like supporting programs that can help us find employment, making sure we can get into college, helping improve special education programs, that kind of stuff.
Be a better ally this April.