So, it’s been awhile since I’ve written (though my co-writer has penned a few pieces since then, to my delight). It isn’t that I haven’t been writing, because I have. But there have been other things on my mind, many of which I’ll touch on at a later date.
Today, though, I need to talk about Autism Speaks.
My older child attends a school for autistic children. It isn’t that she is incapable of being in the public school system, but our insurance covers this sort of specialized schooling, and there’s no way the public school system would have given her everything she needs to succeed. So this is where she attends. So far, I’ve been pretty much okay with the school. The teachers and aides are amazing, and they have all sorts of fun events and lots of parent information sessions, too. Overall, it’s a good school. I did, however, notice, on my daily drop off and pick up times, that a large percentage of the 25 parents whose children attend the school support Autism Speaks. There are puzzle pieces and Autism Speaks logos plastered all over their cars, along with a few cars who bear the information “Autistic child aboard: may not respond to verbal commands” which is one of the few things I can justify as being acceptable to place on your car in case of an accident.
So I staged a sort of passive-aggressive protest. I ordered magnets from Cafepress that say “Support Neurodiversity”, “Cure Ignorance, not Autism”, and one that says ASAN (which stands for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network) and bears their logo. All three of those now adorn my car. I’ve received one nasty look from a parent in the parking lot, but no additional commentary.
I thought all was well. Until Monday, when I checked my daughter’s backpack and saw this:
I knew this walk was coming up. Someone on Tumblr posted a photo of some Autism Speaks merchandise in the autism and actuallyautistic tags that were from the Florida Mall. I’ve since discovered (obviously) that the walk is on November 10th. And I’d already determined that I would probably protest it.
Then, today, I received another flyer in my daughter’s backpack about the Autism Speaks walk. And I’m just furious. I know I shouldn’t be. I know that most of the world does not understand that Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for autistic people. I know that even some of you who are reading here might think that is the truth, as well. Which is why I’m adding a few links to the post so you can research this information for yourself – don’t take my word for it.
I’m not something to be fixed. My children aren’t something to be fixed. Stop buying the stereotypes of our lives as tragedies and support us instead. There are a number of different organizations who ARE out there to help us, to legitimately support us. They offer service dogs, and AAC devices for the nonspeaking among us. They offer therapies and respite for our parents when needed (and yes, I believe this to be a need, 100%).
Here, have some links:
ASAN’s printable pdf “Consider the Facts”
So what am I going to do? Well, as we speak, I am currently printing out as much information as I can to present to the school. I haven’t decided whether I’m lucky or not that one of the people who is toward the head of the administration is a friend of my mother’s. This may play to my advantage. It might backfire, however. We’ll see how well she responds.
In any case, I can’t sit back and be silent. I’ve done enough of that.