Next month is what most people term “Autism Awareness Month” but what autistic activists alternatively call “Autism Acceptance Month” or “hell month.” It’s a month where people light it up blue globally for Autism $peaks (in 2017 basically every landmark in over 150 countries lit it up blue according to their website which I’m not giving traffic), the hate group I have written about 5 times and made this toolkit with a lot of different resources and talking points to help people fight their supporters including those articles.
Last year on my page An Articulate Autistic I made a guide with stuff to help allies help us and after a lot of edits as those months went on it became really clunky so I’m remaking it here.
For myself and a lot of autistics next month is hell. It’s when the whole world joins together to support an organization that is incredibly harmful to us and has fueled and fed off of stigma against us for the past 13 years. It makes me want to hide in a hole and not come out until May 1st, last year I spent the whole month gaming to get my mind off of the hatred represented in the blue lights and puzzle pieces (a symbol for autism that has a long history of being horrible before AS). A lot of businesses will be making partnerships for the month for portions of any profit or of a certain product going to them (in addition to these 12 different sponsors that gave a total of $5,100,000 last year) along with the infinite well-intentioned people who are going to be lighting it up blue intending to be supportive of us unknowingly reinforcing our oppression.
While my articles on allies are…often my most incendiary, we need you next month because the more activist-oriented an autistic is, the more the utter futility of standing against this behemoth is rubbed in. It’s always there though I can usually ignore it but April focuses it like a laser into my brain so it’s impossible to not feel the lurking despair.
If you want to help us, you can start now. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, our main autistic-run policy organization, made this flyer (edit: I converted it to a picture on Facebook here to distribute it that way) last year with their budgeting (they spend 1.6% on family services and a total of 58% on lobbying, advertising, and fundraising, 36 times as much), key facts, and alternative organizations to donate to (although if you want to donate directly to an autistic activist who has been struggling with getting employment that isn’t incredibly overloading here’s my PayPal…while activism is important, it doesn’t pay and this alone has taken a few hours). I would recommend printing them and giving them to places that supported AS last year, they’re in color but shouldn’t be affected if printed grayscale. Also please boycott places that are supporting them for the month, it’s not that long and they don’t need the help.
My usual tactic when talking to people (I talk about this…a lot in person) is drawing attention to their vile ad campaigns. First and most horrid is “Autism Every Day” (transcript here), which was so terrible it had me breaking down crying wondering why they hated us so much. In particular, I mention the mom talking about wanting to drive her autistic daughter off of a bridge, with said daughter in her lap, and the only thing stopping her was having an allistic (non-autistic) daughter. Second is “I Am Autism” (transcript here) which had a creepy stalker voice saying that autism ruins marriages, is faster than pediatric AIDS diabetes and cancer combined, and makes it so you can’t go into public without struggle, embarrassment, or pain…I’m linking the transcripts instead of the videos because I’m only willing to put myself through so much suffering to write this and can’t handle actually seeing and hearing them.
Most (regrettably not all) people have issues with Nazis which is why I mention to people that they almost had the Soldiers of Odin, a very obviously named Neonazi group, at one of their fundraisers until people pointed out who they were, more info in the aptly named Autism Speaks: How Long Does It Take to Look into It?
The last point I make (after the others because it…might be taken skeptically on its own) is that no autistic activist was surprised by them having Nazis at their fundraiser because they’re eugenicist as well. A bold claim but…still accurate. They spend the second-most money on research to find the cause and a cure (with the death of their founder they found a thesaurus and use “solution” now) for autism. Another organization that is trying to find the cause and cure of something they think is horrible, the American Cancer Society, is looking for the cause so they can prevent it from existing in the first place. When trying to do that for a neurology instead of a disease that is eugenics.
So, there’s a lot of stuff for what not to do, there are however multiple ways to do things that do actually support us. Instead of lighting it up blue for them, try lighting it up gold or do #RedInstead (I wrote both a nice and a pissed-off article for that). Instead of a puzzle piece, try the rainbow infinity symbol of the neurodiversity movement. If you want to suggest organizations to donate to my top two picks are the aforementioned Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (both links go to donation pages). If you want to get our voices heard instead of theirs here’s a list of a lot of great pages and blogs from my friends. Instead of calling for awareness call for acceptance instead (you’re already aware of our existence, now we need a world that accepts us as equal humans. Also, awareness months are for horrible things, as this list shows April is also STD and IBS awareness month). Last but not least, check in on your autistic friends next month, it’s really hard and your support will matter quite a bit.