#WAAD reflections in the aftermath

Elephant_in_the_room

My activities during World Autism Awareness Day this year were a solo act.

I was happy to be reaching out via social media to friends and making new connections with people from around the globe.

How ironic then, that on the one day of the year the autism community celebrates its culture, en masse, I should be so acutely aware of my own lifelong sense of disconnectedness!

 

World Autism Awareness Day

I had no plans for how I would be celebrating the day, other than a vague idea of tweeting some of my blog posts and random thoughts/blurts.

I’ve never been a team player and actively avoid group activities as I find them too restrictive and stressful.

I spent time reading #WAAD posts by other bloggers, before and during #WAAD and was surprised to find so many kindred spirits.

Two bloggers articulated very well my thoughts on:

I had been a little uncomfortable with the ‘blue’ contingent and equally uncomfortable with those advocating a different color – as if Autism Awareness had a Divinely ordained color!

I then read Jeannette’s post in which she shared the reality of Autism in her family, specifically her daughter.

  • In my opinion her post was entirely about Autism Awareness
  • As were the 2 previous posts that I linked to
  • They were about the REALITY of autism and discussed the substance of awareness

I continued reading #WAAD posts that appeared in my Twitter timeline, including retweets from those I was not following.

Some people were ‘lighting it up blue’ so that they could feel a greater sense of connection and belonging to the Autism community.

  • That’s human nature

Some people, dealing with more severe forms of Autism, were ‘lighting it up blue’ because they genuinely do want a ‘cure’.

  • That’s human nature too

Others were taking a more philosophical view of #WAAD and then it hit me!

 

Autism Awareness and Acceptance begins at home

Actually it begins inside the Autism community.

There were so many Autism Awareness and Acceptance viewpoints, but surprisingly (with the possible exception of fire-branders) with a little thought, I found myself:

  • understanding
  • then being comfortable with
  • and finally accepting all these different view points

because each of these viewpoints is formed from a different vantage point than anyone else, including me.

  • as is my viewpoint and your viewpoint

In fact, the Autism community is not just a community of Autistic people.

  • Neurotypical people form a significant minority in the Autism community
  • Perhaps even the majority, in some segments of the community
  • As parents, siblings, carers, service providers etc

The Autism community is not a homogeneous group.

  • The Autistic and Neurotypical segments aren’t homogeneous either!

Neurotypical members of the Autism community have their own neurotypical uniqueness overlaid with the uniqueness of the autisic person(s)/person(s) with autism for whom they are caring.

 

But crucially:

How can the Autism community demand and expect acceptance from those outside when:

  • very often, those in the Autism community are not even accepting of each other?

 

Which faction of the Autism community should those outside the community be listening to?

  • The loudest?
  • The angriest?
  • Celebrities?
  • Those with the greatest financial resources?

Ask 100 people in the Autism community which organisation or person best articulates and speaks for them and see how united the Autism community REALLY is. Some in the autism community don’t want anyone speaking for them and that’s a valid position too.

 

Putting our own house in order first?

Perhaps we should consider taking the beam out of our own eye first, before we petition others to take the speck out of theirs?

  • inside as well as outside the Autism community

To those who have wrestled with their own perspectives on Autism Awareness and Autism Acceptance and taken the time, thought and care to share with me and others, I thank you.

Perhaps we should put our efforts into understanding each other, inside the Autism community, before we take on the real task of educating those outside our community.

Maybe then we might find ourselves being more accepting of each other AND the non-Autistic community.

We might even discover that we are more accepted by the wider community than we currently believe?

But even if this is not so, we are likely to find it easier to gain acceptance, if we first ‘accept’ those from whom we yearn acceptance.

 

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Katrina Moody
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 11:46:39

    Great post — I’ve often said that the real awareness has to happen within the autism community – both the parents and caregivers as well as adult autistics – I would LOVE to some day hear my own guys’ thoughts to this, but I try to shield them from the controversy 😦

    Reply

  2. A Quiet Week
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 20:36:32

    I always enjoy how neatly organized your posts are. I can easily read through and absorb information. I will be checking out your links!

    Your rational and compassionate views reflect my own. Thw issues are so complex for me, I feel lost, yet, I recognize my feelings in your words. I feel buoyed by your post.

    Thank you for the time and thought you put into your words.

    Lori

    Reply

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