This may sound funny to some, but ever since the beginning of the Respectfully Connected blogging project I have been thinking about what I might write here during April “Autism Awareness Month”. It’s not that I have nothing to say. In fact I have written extensively on the subject in many places online. The thing I have been wrestling with is how to write about “Autism Awareness Month” gently.
How do I gently say that the initiative that so many are so proud of actually actively causes my children harm?
Then yesterday, while reading the headlining news in Australia on April 2 World Autism Awareness Day, I suddenly realised. This is not a topic that should be treated gently.
Children in our public schools are being caged, locked in cupboards and called retards. Our government is deporting people in case they one day apply for citizenship and end up costing the “taxpayer” money. My children and my family are seen as burdens because of our neurodivergence. It is reported that more and more families with Autistic children are choosing homeschooling because schools are not accommodating to, let alone safe for, Autistic kids.
There is nothing gentle about the treatment of Autistic people in our society. So why should we oppose their treatment gently?
Sometimes it is right to stand in defiance of gentle opposition.
So, here are my ungentle words to those who think awareness is a good goal.
It is awareness that makes my children the victims of jokes like “don’t do that, it makes you look Autistic”.
It is awareness that brings people to unblinkingly accept the assertion by a well known charity that 30,000 Australian children have been kidnapped by Autism.
It is awareness that causes people to want to assuage their fear of the tragedy that is Autism by donating to organisations that spend 10 times more on their corporate salaries than actually helping Autistic people.
It is awareness that causes people to sigh in sympathy with parents who abuse and murder their Autistic children rather than condemning them for violently ending the innocent life it was their responsibility to protect.
In our society that fears and belittles any kind of divergence from their standard of normal all awareness does is reinforce the people in a minority group as targets.
We can practice gentleness, respect and acceptance with in our homes indefinitely, but until we are prepared to take that out where others can see it, until we are prepared to speak loudly, nothing out there will change and all we teach our kids is that they are only valuable to some.
Until our society will accept that diversity is good, valuable and essential to the wellbeing of us all it is imperative that we ungently speak out in defence of our children, our friends and their tribe. Gentle opposition will not be enough to shift the attitudes that are harming them.
I hope some of you will stand in defiance with me.