It's that time of year again...the time of year when we start seeing puzzle pieces all around. That's right...April is Autism Awareness Month. Now, as an autism mom, this is something that is very important to me. There is nothing I strive for more than to educate others on what autism is...to share the misconceptions, correct the myths, to bring not just awareness but acceptance as well.
So perhaps it'll come as quite the surprise that our family will not be lighting it up blue on April 2nd or anytime throughout the month of April.
Light It Up Blue is a campaign created by Autism Speaks to help raise awareness for autism...which sounds like a good thing, right? But here's the deal... as an Autism family, Autism Speaks is one organization that we cannot and will not support.
It wasn't always that way.
When my son was first diagnosed with autism 6 and a half years ago, I immediately dove into learning all I could about anything and everything autism...including the organizations that were supposed to be helping the community. I'd seen a few negative comments about a few of the organizations, including Autism Speaks (complaints of spending more on advertising than actually helping fmilies, etc), but I had made the decision that until my son was old enough to tell us otherwise, we would support each of these organizations.
But over the years, I found myself becoming more and more upset over those advertising techniques that AS was using. They weren't sharing anything positive about autism. No encouraging stories or anything that really helped my son or those like him. Instead I saw them spreading fear. I saw them saying what a tragedy autism was and how awful parents raising autistic children had it. The more I saw of this, the more turned off I was. But then they published an article on their website written by one of the founders that became the final straw for me.
In this article, they talked about what autism was. And they got it completely wrong. You can read my original reaction to that post here.
Autism is not a tragedy. People with autism are not a burden. The type of fear mongering that Autism Speaks has become known for is not the kind of awareness we need. I cannot stand by and support an organization in any way, shape or form that believes that the people they proclaim to support are burdens, that they are less than.
So no, we won't be lighting our house up with blue lights. We will not be wearing blue. We will not be spreading the kind of hate that comes from Autism Speaks. Instead, we will be supporting true autism acceptance. We will celebrate the differences and we will look at not just the negative aspects of autism, but the good too...and there is plenty of good!
So this year if you truly want to support individuals, DON'T light it up blue and don't support Autism Speaks. Instead consider supporting your local Autism Society of America- an organization that truly does a lot to help individuals actually living with autism.
And go gold for Autism instead, because truly, what is there to be blue about anyway?