Awareness is necessary before there can be acceptance.
Maija Mills, Autism Peer Support
Personally, I was unaware of this information until Autism showed up in my own life…
If you are planning to observe Autism Awareness/ Acceptance in April 2023, please take your cues from #ActuallyAutistic advocates who speak from lived experience.
Disempowerment Associated with Autism Symbolism:
First up: the colour blue and “Light it up Blue” campaign. The intended (and outdated) nod toward ‘blue for boys’ fails to represent the many female and non binary Autistics in our society. In the not-so-distant past, Autism was thought to occur exclusively in children who were male. Wrong, and wrong. Now that we know that Autism is neurodevelopmental (and present through the lifespan) and shows up in individuals of any gender (and incidentally, at higher rates in the LGBTQ2S+ community), the colour blue does not represent actual Autistics as a whole. Popular alternatives: Gold (Au), or Rainbow colours inside an infinity symbol. These symbols speak to Autistics’ inherent worth and cherished diversity.
Speaking of symbols; consider the controversial puzzle piece(s). The puzzle with a missing piece, or multiple pieces, has been made recognizable by the charity Autism Speaks (which is not directed or driven by actual Autistics, so does not tend to align with the beliefs or needs of actual Autistic people). The puzzle piece is associated with “puzzling” or “missing parts”. Autistics do not feel that we lack anything, or that we are/ have a problem to be solved by others.
♾️ The term 'Autism acceptance' is preferred over 'Autism awareness' ♾️ Puzzle piece symbols are not affirming ♾️ ‘Lighting it up blue’ is rejected by many Autistics ♾️ For English speakers, identity-first language (Autistic person) is generally preferred over person-first language (person with Autism)
♾️ Many choose to use a capital A for Autistic, much like many in the Deaf community
♾️ As many do not consider Autism a ‘disorder’, avoid using the pathologizing term: Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD
♾️ ‘Functioning’ terms such as high-functioning and low-functioning autism disguise the fact that Autistics all face challenges and all possess strengths