autism-acceptance

just gonna leave this here..

“The first question we wanted to ask was - why blue? What does the color blue have to do with the autism spectrum? The answer is that Autism Spectrum Disorders are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252). So, the color blue represents the boys diagnosed with autism.”

-from the Autism Speaks website

Quick shout out to neurowonderfulWho has been an excellent resource about autism and all around awesome person! Thank you so much for all that you do! I’ve learned so much from you as I’m sure so many more have!

CLICK THROUGH TO THEIR* BLOG http://neurowonderful.tumblr.com/

Be sure to check out their* YouTube videos and subscribe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez936r2F35U

EDIT* for proper pronoun, please respect peoples’ pronouns

Super important PSA

Hey guys please remember to celebrate Autism ACCEPTANCE month this April and not Autism AWARENESS month. Autism Acceptance month is supported by #actuallyautistic people. Autism Awarness is supported by Autism Speaks AKA the people that have been spreading propaganda about Autism and other cognitive disorders and making money off of it. Autism Awarness instills fear and lies about autistic people in an effort to “cure” us. Autism Acceptance says “We’re not sick. We are here and can live happy healthy lives.”

Bonus: Don’t light up blue! Go red!
Understanding The Spectrum

I hear alot of people misinterpreting or misusing the term ‘autism spectrum’. So for Autism Acceptance week, I decided to make a comic to help explain the term and how it affects things. Archie is one of the reasons I became so interested/knowledgeable in autism (I like to go all out in research when I write characters for comics n such) so he’s the one presenting everything! The rest of the comic is under the cut, because I don’t want to spam ^^;

Keep reading

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I am Cyndi.

I am a 35 year old autistic adult.

I will not shrink or change who I am to make others happy. 

There is no “normal” woman hiding behind my autism. I am me, autism and all. Being autistic has shaped every atom of my being. Everything from how I move to how I experience my emotions. You can’t take autism away without killing me. 

I stim shamelessly in public. I have a lot of sensory issues and difficulty with transitioning between activities. My overstimulation threshold is extremely low, so I’m almost always stimming in some form or another.

Sometimes I have meltdowns– some of them involve screaming, some are crying and some are self-injurious. Yeah, I punch myself in the head or bash my forehead against things.

I can talk reasonably well, but the words I say are often simpler than my thoughts. Speaking requires me to engage a lot of brainpower, though you can’t see the effort because it’s only palpable to me. Typing uses a lot less brainpower. I’m better at expressing myself in writing.

I am who I am and it’s not my problem if you don’t like it.

Autism Speaks wants to erase me and others like me from existence. Autistic people who can’t speak or make their communications understood by wide audiences are especially vulnerable to the hate and negativity this organization spews about us.

You are a hypocrite if you say “be yourself!” while supporting an organization that says “but not like that. We have to fix you first.”

Autism Speaks devalues autistic peoples’ lives. Why support that? So don’t.

Don’t wear blue on April 2nd. Don’t light it up blue. Don’t go to Autism Speaks walks unless you’re there to protest against the organization.

Don’t support Autism Speaks.

#boycottautismspeaks #actuallyautistic #walkinred

Autism Acceptance Month: Things to Do (and things to avoid)

*Will be updated every now and then throughout April*

Invariably, and inevitably, every April it is a deluge of theAutism “Awareness” campaigns that do little to promoteacceptance for autistic people. This is a compilation of good ways tosupport acceptance for autistic people and make it Autism Acceptance Month instead, and also a list of things to not do. 

Here we go!

Amplify autistic voices. This is our month (not, as Autism Speaks would have you believe, a month for“families of people affected by autism”) and we want it to reflect that.

Actually autistic autism bloggers/blogs to start with (only a sampling of the many fabulous people out there):

Disability in Kidlit (disabilityinkidlit)​ is doing an Autism on the Page Event with contributions from autistic people

Follow the Autism Acceptance Day page started by Paula Durbin-Westby. 

Support self-advocacy organizations run by autistic people by donating or getting involved.

Ways to donate to ASAN by buying online

Raise money for ASAN online

Go to Autism Acceptance Month Website. There, you can:

#AcceptanceIs Social Media Campaign: Tell everyone what autism acceptance is!

Walk in Red instead of Lighting it Up Blue on April 2nd

Avoid Autism Speaks and Lighting it Up Blue

Here’s a good checklist of how to determine if a charity is a good one to support.

Image is of a text message from Did you know to ASAN as on an iPhone or iPad interface. The text from Did you know reads: “Autism $peaks yearly media budget is $10,238,115. The reply from ASAN reads "That could buy 14,226 iPads to let nonverbal Autistics speak for ourselves!

Below the texts is an Autistic Self Advocacy Network logo, with i"April is autism acceptance month” in smaller text below the logo.

Autism Awareness Failed Me

I was aware of autism five years before I even started to consider that I could be autistic. It was six years of that awareness before I was diagnosed by a doctor who knew autism is a lot more complicated and varied than what fits neatly into “autism awareness” campaigns. I was never like the poster children for autism, who are white, cisgender boys (never adults) from (upper)middle-class families. I didn’t think I could be autistic until I found what actual autistic people had to say about autism.

Autism awareness, at least as it currently exists, fails a large segment of the autistic population. Most people aren’t white, cisgender boys. We need awareness that includes atypical autism traits. If I or my family had read that list of traits when I was fifteen, I might have realised I’m autistic a lot sooner and found the resources and support I need much sooner, too.

My autistic traits are atypical, and they’re full of contradiction. I’m intelligent and even good at language, even metaphorical and idiomatic language, but sometimes I can’t remember how to form sentences or forget words for everyday things like chairs or my own native language just starts to sound like complete gibberish. I struggle to answer “how are you?” but I’m often complimented on my self-awareness and understanding of both my own and other’s emotions. The tiniest sounds can distract me or give me a headache, but sometimes I can’t even hear someone shouting my name. Autism is inconsistent. It’s complicated.

If you want to know what autism looks like, if you want to spread real awareness, then you need to listen to the people who know autism best: autistic people. Maybe this “Autism Awareness Month,” instead of wearing blue, walking to raise money for a dangerous organisation, sharing stories meant to incite fear or pity, or putting blue ribbons on everything out of the irrational belief that ribbons solve everything (seriously, stop it; ribbons don’t cure cancer either)–instead of spreading unhelpful awareness created by non-autistic people, you can help spread and deepen awareness of what autism actually is by reading and sharing the accounts of actual autistic people.

I’m starting by picking up a copy of Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking, written and published by autistic people (autisticadvocacy, to be more specific). Click here to find it at an independent bookshop near you on IndieBound. Or see if a library near you has it.

Somebody once asked me, a little horrified I think, “Wait - what are the bad parts of being neurotypical??”

I’d made an offhand comment about how being autistic has good and bad parts, just like being neurotypical has good and bad parts.

I think one the bad parts of being neurotypical is that you don’t get so many of the amazing parts of being, for example, autistic.

Neurotypical people can fidget, for instance, but they can’t ever know how good it feels to have your body just flow into a stim, to feel your thoughts start lining up or your body get comfortable when you stim the way you need to. Autistic people (and some others!) have this amazing experience where our bodies find motions that express and comfort and regulate in ways that neurotypical people can never fully understand.

And neurotypical people can enjoy sensory experiences, but to be autistic is to have a unique relationship with sensory input. So much of our sensory experiences are amplified compared to those of NTs , and while that can and does cause overload etc. sometimes… when the input is good? It’s glorious. Good fabrics and good sounds and good smells and good tastes and textures - we get to feel them all more intensely.

And echolalia! Echolalia is so good and so enjoyable and neurotypical people, I think, get only the barest shadow of what it’s like.

NTs can have hobbies and passions and callings, but they can’t ever, ever know the pure and consuming joy that is a special interest.

There are good and bad parts to being autistic. Neurotypicals, you’re going to have to accept that, and along with it the concept that autistic people have good experiences that you, by virtue of being neurotypical, simply cannot have.

You don’t see yourself as an object of pity because you lack those experiences, do you? You aren’t going to pour millions into research to have brains like ours, are you? I mean, even if you could do it, you wouldn’t be you anymore. And the way your brain works is just fine for you, you don’t mind not having good autistic experiences because you have your own!

Well - same. I don’t want to be neurotypical. Being autistic is an integral part of my personality, and I wouldn’t give up my good autistic experiences for a shot at your neurotypical ones in a million years. What I want is to be accepted for who I am as an autistic person, for people to respect and accommodate my needs the way the world respects and accommodates your needs as a neurotypical person.

When professionals assume that parents of disabled kids see ghosts

In the special needs service provision community, there is a strongly held narrative about what happens when a kid turns out to be disabled. This narrative causes a lot of problems.

According to this narrative:

  • Professionals believe that parents have a strong emotional attachment to the typically developing kid they were expecting. 
  • They are usually in denial even about obvious signs of disability, and will hold on to their fantasy for as long as possible. 
  • At some point, the parents are forced to confront their child’s disability.
  • They lose their fantasy of the child they expected, and this is emotionally devastating. 
  • In order to move on, they have to mourn the loss of the child they expected and the life they expected.
  • Parents need emotional validation and help working through that.
  • All of this is very widely believed, and I think this model causes a lot of problems.

I think the grief model is a problem on several levels:

When parents are grieving for the child they expected, it’s really hard on the child they already have:

  • Children want adults in their lives to see them, approve of them, and love them.
  • When parents are seeing ghosts, they’re not seeing their real child.
  • Children can tell when adults in their lives are looking past them. It hurts. 
  • When parents are mourning for the child they expected, they are disappointed by the child they actually have.
  • Children can tell when adults in their lives are profoundly disappointed in them. It hurts.
  • And it especially hurts when the child has no control over the things that are disappointing their parents.
  • While parents struggle to accept their children as they are, their children struggle to cope with being parented by people who do not yet find them acceptable.
  • That hurts. And it leaves scars.

Kids need support in navigating this, and they don’t often get it:

  • There is often a tendency to pretend that kids don’t know.
  • But disabled kids aren’t a separate species. They’re kids, and kids are almost always very sensitive to how adults in their lives feel about them.
  • Kids need people in their lives who see them, and not ghosts. 
  • Kids need people in their lives who can accept and value them as they are.
  • Sometimes that can’t be their parents. Or can’t (yet) be their parents.
  • But it needs to be someone. (And their parents need to understand that their attitude towards their child affects their child)
  • If you work with kids in any capacity, it is likely that this person needs to be you sometimes.
  • Looking at the real child and seeing a person matters. Seeing them and not a ghost of someone you expected matters. Making it clear that you’re not disappointed in them matters. 
  • If you can do that for kids you work with, it can prevent a lot of pain. (And can likely help their parents to come to a point of acceptance sooner.)

Further, not all parents actually feel this way:

  • The professional narrative about grief and mourning does not accurately describe all parents.
  • Parents of disabled kids have all kinds of feelings about their kids for all kinds of reasons.
  • Not all of these feelings are negative.
  • Even when parents have negative feelings, they’re not always grief. 
  • Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed and confused about how to support their child.
  • (Or worried about how to afford the things their child needs).
  • (Or repulsed by things professionals are telling them to do to their children as therapy.)
  • Sometimes parents feel ashamed about not having noticed sooner.
  • Sometimes parents feel concerned that they may have caused their child’s disability. 
  • Or any number of things.
  • Not all parent feelings are grief, and the full reality needs to be acknowledged

Parents are sometimes pressured into mourning when they weren’t already grieving:

  • The grief and mourning narrative is strong and pervasive. 
  • Parents are often expected to describe everything they’re feeling as grief.
  • Parents are often not given any support in working through the other feelings and doubts they are having. 
  • This can result in parents being pushed into a mourning process that wasn’t actually necessary for them. 
  • It is very damaging to both parents and children when this happens.
  • It is not good to grieve for the living. When it’s avoidable, it should be avoided.
  • It’s important to be careful to avoid pushing parents into adopting a grief narrative unnecessarily. 
  • (Sometimes it’s not avoidable, for reasons that aren’t anyone’s fault. But it’s often more avoidable than people realize.)

Tl;dr There is a pervasive professional narrative that says parents of disabled kids need to mourn for the child they were expecting before they can accept their real child. This isn’t always true, and parents are sometimes pressured into feeling and mourning through grief that they otherwise would not have experienced. When parents *do* mourn for their living children, that is emotionally devastating for the kids. Parents and kids both need much better support in navigating the disability acceptance process.

For another perspective on this, see Jim Sinclair’s classic article “Don’t Mourn For Us” (written about autism specifically.

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[Image description: Six Valentine’s day cards, each containing coloured text inside of white rectangles set on different watercolor paper patterns. The cards read, “I would leave the house for you”, “You make me happy flap”, “You are my new special interest”, “I want to make you a part of my routine”, “Let’s stim together”, and “I want you to infodump to me”.]

Happy Valentine’s, tumblr friends! In honour of the holiday I redid my aAutistic/neurodivergent cards from last year. Please feel free to use them! They are big so that you can print them out. I love you all! ♡

Part of autism acceptance is allowing autistic people to choose what strategies work best for them, no matter how “odd” the strategy may be. When I am stressed out or angry or overwhelmed, I go into my “safe place” which is under a table that’s now turned into a fort and watch shows I love and hug soft things. I also stim to help my brain focus. It is so important to allow autistic people to do whatever it is that helps them be happy, whether it is drawing, flapping, fiddling with string, or scripting. Don’t try and force autistic people to be “normal”. Autism acceptance is where normal is SELF-DEFINED.

Ultimately, everyone should be able to decide what they think their normal should be. It’s a basic human right.

—  Candi B., “Autism Acceptance”

We do need more autism awareness. But not the kind that Autism Speaks promotes.

We need awareness of what autism actually is, and that its cause is genetic, not environmental. We need awareness that it cannot be cured. We need awareness that it doesn’t need to be cured. We need awareness of what autism can look like in different people. We need awareness that it appears in people of color and women. We need awareness that autism stays present in adults. We need awareness of how to help autistic people with their problems.

Autism Speaks’ “awareness” doesn’t help with any of this. It is nothing more than fearmongering and it hurts autistic people rather than helping them.

This particular Autism Drawing is one I have been developing for a while. I started drawing it a few months ago and kept redesigning it for ages, but now Im finally happy with it. 

“NOT A TRAGEDY”

This drawing is a statement against the, unfortunately common, ableist narrative that Autism is some kind of terrible tragedy and that Autistic people should be pitied. 

The drawing is of an Autistic girl who is cheerfully stimming and wearing a red jumper with the Neurodiversity Symbol on it, indicating support for “Autism Acceptance” (and rejecting the ‘Autism Awareness’ Campaign). She is stimming by listening to music, pressure stimming with the weight of the headphones and flapping her hands. Beneath her is a coloured in Neurodiversity Symbol with the words “Not A Tragedy” written inside in capital letters. 

Autism is NOT a tragedy and its LONG overdue for neurotypical people to start understanding that. 

Image description: A youtube comment posted by user “grandmasbabees”. Their avatar is a family portrait featuring a white multigenerational family. The message reads: You paint with too broad of a brush. You may not want a cure but the family that struggles with their aged out of the system non verbal in diapers and severe self abuse DESERVE A CURE. Open up your world and see others before you say Autism should not be cured.

Above is a youtube comment that I recieved on my What’s Wrong With Autism Speaks? video. Below is my response:

Hi grandmasbabees. Firstly, I did not say Autism should not be cured: I said it can not be cured, and that many Autistic people and their families do not think that Autism needs a cure. My opinion is that focusing on a cure for Autism is harmful and unhelpful, but opinions mean little when what our science knows of Autistic neurology says that Autism will never be curable.

The reason that Autism will never be a curable condition is because it is a developmental disability. Autism is a neurological condition, not a disease. Diseases and illnesses can be cured. Developmental disorders can not. There is no way to change the physical and neurological structure of the brain of a living human being, and so there will never be a cure for developmental disabilities.

Secondly, you say that the families of “ non verbal in diapers and severe self [abusive]” Autistic people deserve a cure. I say that the insistence on searching for a cure for Autism is not only futile, it is unfair to the very Autistic people that you mention.

By making discussions of a theoretical “cure” all about  the families of Autistic people– by focusing only on how hard it is for the neurotypical family members and by insisting that they deserve a cure– you are erasing the experiences of all the actual non-verbal Autistic people. You say family members deserve a cure– I say that Autistic people, and their families, deserve better.

Autistic people deserve to have all those millions of dollars that currently go to research to be redirected towards services and accommodation for Autistic people and their families. All that “research” is focused on finding the “Autism gene”, or developing a prenatal test for Autism. Meanwhile, one in a hundred people on this planet have ASD, and many of those people are non-verbal and frustrated. Many of these people are being mistreated or even murdered, and their families are struggling. A pre-natal test for Autism wouldn’t help any of those Autistic people or their families.

The thing that we all need to understand about self-harming behaviours in non-verbal Autistic people is that it Autistic people don’t self-harm because it is an inevitable symptom of Autism, or to make the lives of their loved ones more difficult. Self-injurious behaviour is an expression of a frustration that is unimaginable to neurotypical people. 

Non-verbal Autistic people who can’t speak with their mouths and who have no other way to communicate will self-harm out of deep frustration and in an attempt to control their environment. Now, what would happen if those millions of dollars currently going towards “research” (which isn’t helping any existing Autistic people or their families at all) was instead poured into programs to help non-verbal Autistic people communicate via alternative methods?

Text-to-speech, AAC, the rapid prompting method, sign language– all of these alternative methods have the potential to give non-verbal Autistic people the chance to express themselves. And the interesting thing about self-harming behaviour is that it decreases exponentially as a person’s ability to communicate and make their needs known increases. Self-harming behaviour is not inevitable in Autistic people, it is an expression of being frustrated, misunderstood, and (as Carly Fleischmann has said) “trapped in a body [they] can’t control”.

Along with providing the teaching and technology needed to allow non-verbal Autistic people to communicate via alternative methods, putting the money that now goes towards “research” towards the area of “family services” would provide more and better therapies, accommodation, and education for Autistic people. That money could also provide services, financial assistance, and respite care for the families of Autistic people.

Autism can never be cured, and since the best we could hope for is a pre-natal test to detect Autism in fetuses, it doesn’t really matter who does or who doesn’t think Autism “should” be cured. So instead, instead of spending millions of dollars trying to find a genetic marker or pre-natal test (a goal that we may never achieve anyway), I believe that we should focus on helping actual Autistic people who are alive now.

You are right. I don’t think that Autism needs a cure, even if it could be cured. I think that Autistic people need understanding, acceptance, and accommodation.

I believe that Autism organizations should be putting money towards providing what Autistic people need to communicate, learn, and grow into healthy, happy Autistic people, and on providing the assistance and services that the families of Autistic people need to thrive and be healthy.

I know that Autism Speaks does a terrible job of being a charity, and that their message of ignorance, fear, and hate actively hurts Autistic people, and that Autism Speaks perpetuates cure culture and the search for cure or medical treatments for Autism to keep parents desperate and generate money.

I also know that messages like yours come from a place of emotional hurt, so I don’t take them personally. While acceptance is the hardest topic for the neurotypical family of Autistic people to understand and accept, I am glad to have the chance to address it.

Speaking of worlds opening up, I feel like you probably haven’t read any of the writings by the “severely autistic” non-verbal Autistic advocates that I linked to in my video description. If you are interested in opening up your world and seeing what the Autistic community is saying about Autism Speaks, cure culture, and acceptance, you can use the resources below as a starting point:

Amy Sequenzia
http://nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.ca/
Amanda Baggs
http://ballastexistenz.wordpress.com/
Henry Frost
https://ollibean.com/tag/henry-frost/
Dora Raymaker
http://doraraymaker.com/doraraymaker.com/
Carly Fleischmann
https://www.facebook.com/carlysvoice
Ido Kedar
http://idoinautismland.blogspot.ca/