Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Autism Awareness Month: My month

Morgan Freeman caused a lot of stir during a 60 Minutes interview when he talked about not liking Black history month because "Black history is American History." April is Autism Awareness month and it's my Black history month. I can't walk through a mall or watch TV without seeing the word Autism. Awareness isn't a bad thing, it's just the loads of miscommunication and division in the Autism community that upsets me.
Full disclosure: I have Autism.
Surprise! Or not really if I've ever said anything not 100% appropriate around you or if I've ever been completely oblivious to anything around you.

I'm a single 24 year old woman with Autism who gets told on a regular basis that people want to cure me. Being the "high functioning" person I am, I also get parents who are angry at me because I can't give them easy answers to all their questions. I only went to one Autism support meeting when I was in college. I had to leave early because a father almost jumped over a table at me because he was so upset I dared to say I have Autism when his 4 year old daughter could barely talk.

I live in a divided community.

I've met parents who want to remove any trace of Autism from their child, sometimes through dangerous alternative methods.
I've also met parents who do their best to foster their children's special interest and accept the child they have been blessed with.
I also see adults on the Autism Spectrum who have to fight for jobs, housing, relationships, and understanding because they don't fit into the stereotypic image the public has for Autism.
And I've heard the cries of children born into a world too loud and too bright with people listening to them but not hearing what they need.

I don't want Autism Awareness as much as I want Autism Acceptance.
When we reach a point where people will accept the social flaws that come with Autism, we can begin to work together to create a brighter future for our children. Yes, dietary changes do help some people and therapies will help people, too. You know what doesn't help? Telling your children you wish they were "normal" and making them feel like they need to be just like everyone else in the world.

I've traveled the world a little bit and I've seen Autism in many different cultures. Autism is not going away and Autism existed before people were getting vaccinated against things. Why is Autism more diagnosed now than at any other point in human history? I have my theories.

Yesterday was World Autism Day and I'm proud to say I know some of the individuals who presented at the United Nations. Yesterday I hung out with a bunch of friends, picked up a new car from the dealership, and acted like a goofball. My label didn't matter, but I was still the same person. I'm always going to have Autism and will have struggles my friends sometimes don't know how to relate to.
That's okay.
This is me.
This is Autism, every day and every month.

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