*** YOUR DAILY DO'S - 4/3, EVENING EDITION *** Mary Park
Yesterday (April 2) was International Autism Awareness Day. April is National Autism Awareness Month. My April challenge for all of y'all is to move beyond "awareness" and into "acceptance" and "support." As the fabulous website The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (https://tinyurl.com/ltzmuxn) puts it: ""Acceptance means autistic people matter. Awareness just means we know autistic people exist."
I'm hoping to spend April highlighting autistic voices; disspelling myths about autism; and introducing the concept of neurodiversity.
Neurodiversity is the surprisingly controversial idea that the human brain, like ecosystems in the physical world, has many natural variations--that autism is a neurological difference that should be respected along with other kinds of difference like gender and sexual orientation.
Here is TPGTA's list of suggestions for Autism Acceptance Month:
--Understand why many autistic people dislike autism "awareness" efforts
--Cite autistic people themselves, not just "experts" or family members
--Recognize the diversity of autistic abilities, instead of factionalizing them
--Avoid invoking pity, or talking about autistic people as burdens
--Don't be ableist
--Use respectful language, such as avoiding "high" and "low" functioning labels
--Support autistic people, instead of talking about "fighting autism" or "epidemics"
Emily Willingham at Forbes Magazine has been doing great work writing about autism. Here is her account of the controversy behind "autism awareness"--and a great explanation of why Trump's war on science can only hurt autistic people: "Autistic people are people, like you are people. It's easy to put yourself in the place of people who are like you. Part of the hard work of conquering that acceptance step is putting yourself in the shoes of people who are not like you and taking a step, or two, or more and feeling what it would be like to be called a monster, to have someone give you a bleach enema, to hear your parents (autistic people hear just fine short of any unassociated hearing impairment) talking about you as toxic or a burden, to read (yes, autistic people can read, even when they are nonspeaking) articles excusing parents for murdering people who are like you--for murdering them because they are like you instead of taking readily accessible steps to keep you both safe.
We need good, useful research, and educational, healthcare, family and workplace protections more than ever, not less, to support the autistic community against such assaults."
One of the most powerful voices in the neurodiversity movement is journalist Steve Silberman, author of the incredible Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity: https://tinyurl.com/h5zorl7
Make a little time to listen to his TED talk about autism's forgotten history:
Stay tuned for more information about neurodiversity in the era of Trump. And thanks for listening.
Katie Anthony is a writer, one of the administrators of Pantsuit Washington, and heads the Daily Do's team.
Liz Bander - writer
Angela Teater- Writer