Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Autism Awareness Done Right

What if autism awareness, like other popular awareness events such as Black History Month, had to do with raising the public's appreciation of the culture and the social contributions of a minority group? What if publishers regularly printed articles by autistic journalists every April, seeking to make readers aware of the autistic community and to improve others' understanding of its concerns and perspectives?

The Advocate-Messenger, a local newspaper in Danville, Kentucky, has done just that by publishing a guest column by an autistic student intern, Lizzy Miller, who writes about her experiences and her view of autism awareness. Here's an excerpt from the column:

T.S. Eliot was right: April is the cruelest month.

So maybe the lilacs haven't bloomed yet, and maybe any dead land in the area has turned into mud by now, but the principle is the same: April is one of the most unintentionally cruel months of the 12.

It's Autism Awareness Month.

I, for one, am acutely aware of autism, and I don't need a special month to think about it, because I am autistic…

…I am one of the autistic adults who is proud to be fighting for the autism acceptance movement.

"Autism awareness" is not a laudable goal. Awareness is cheap. Anybody can put a puzzle piece magnet on his car and call himself "aware." Being aware and accepting of autistic people as people instead of puzzles takes more effort.

The column is very well written and is worth reading in its entirety. Three cheers for Lizzy Miller for being brave enough to put herself in the public view and to stand up for autistic pride, and another round of cheers for the Advocate-Messenger for recognizing its duty as a news organization to present a respectful view of minority communities and to refrain from the careless stereotyping that we have seen too often in the media.

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  • Indeed the article is so good, even I can't find fault with it, and that is rare for me.

    By Blogger laurentius rex, at 3:52 PM  

  • thanks for pointing us to it. : )

    By Blogger cripchick, at 5:53 PM  

  • Amazing article. Thanks for showing me.

    *is counting down the days to may 1st*

    By OpenID missnomered, at 8:28 PM  

  • I'm glad I got to read that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    By Blogger mumkeepingsane, at 11:40 AM  

  • Thanks for that. I sent those folks a little kudos. I hope they don't mind gushing.

    By Anonymous Evonne, at 4:13 PM  

  • Evonne, I think gushing is a very good idea. :) Maybe it will make them more likely to publish similar articles in the future.

    By Blogger abfh, at 5:51 PM  

  • Excellent article! Thanks for the link :)

    By Anonymous Lori, at 9:13 PM  

  • Bravo indeed. Thanks for sharing that article. And, I think your idea for "Autism Awareness" month is stellar.

    By Blogger S.L., at 12:02 AM  

  • A question--can anyone point me to statements by Autism Speaks that deny the existence of autistic adults? Or is it just the focus on the "epidemic" and children that by inference denies them?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 AM  

  • Anonymous -- here's a link to an article by Autism Diva that goes into great detail in deconstructing the propaganda put out by Autism Speaks.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:43 AM  

  • Sometimes a lack of a statement is a statement. What goes unsaid is implied. The fact that Autism Speaks has no autistic people on its board either means they don't think they exist or they know they exist and don't care. None of it matters to them, because as Suzanne Wright has frequently said in public "Autism Speaks is HER organization". True enough. Now stop calling it Autism Speaks and perhaps call it "Rich White Woman with No Clue Speaks"

    By Anonymous CS, at 5:05 PM  

  • lol cs........well said.

    abfh-hi.......how's it going?

    I tend to think of april as just another month in the year.......it's just another collection of thirty consecutive days in which we auties can compile and disseminate the truth about autism and autistic experiences, which are, as we know but alot of people don't, are as different as non autistic people are themselves. All black people are not alike just because they are black, all white people are not racists just because lots of them were in the fifties and sixties......all autistic people are not alike just because of being autistic...........

    (stuff we already know by virtue of being autistic)

    we'd want to get the truth out any other time in the year..........april is just a time to do so in higher concentration......more intensively if possible........to drown out the drivel of autism speaks and other such dreck....

    end of ramble

    Athena and The Integral of athenivanidx

    By OpenID athenivanidx, at 12:34 AM  

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