Sunday, April 13, 2014

Autism Acceptance Attacked, but NOT Defeated!

As you know in November of 2011 my board voted unanimously to call April in Northern Virginia Autism Acceptance Month at my suggestion, awareness is not enough. 

For our first celebration in April 2012 I made a sign for my front yard that stated “April is Autism Acceptance Month”, I decorated it with flowers, waterproofed it, taped it to an old yard sign and placed it in a flowerbed facing the street, every year since then it has spent the whole of April cheerily sharing my message with passersby that was until last evening. 

I was headed out to church when I noticed it lying on the front walk sans yard sign, I assumed that it had somehow come unstuck, the best case scenario I could dream up knowing full well I had made sure to tape it securely with duct tape to the yard sign.  After closer investigation I discovered that it had been cut off the yard sign and then tossed onto our front walk.  The covering had been slashed.  Fortunately the sign within had not been damaged.  I was angered and close to having a meltdown.  I quickly gathered it up and ran back into my house, I was fuming.  I showed it to my mother who was surprised that the sign had been attacked, but fortunately my mother knew the right thing to say to keep me from fully melting down, so off to church I went.

While I was at church she had been looking at the sign and noticed that the lettering had started to fade due to two Aprils worth of sunlight, she therefore suggested that I should touch up the letters and make it better than it was.  I in turn told her that I had concluded during church that the individual who had committed the act did not know what Acceptance was and that I would put my sign up again, showing the world that Acceptance cannot be so easily defeated.  It is now freshly re-erected.

I am Autistic and Proud and no one can take that away from me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

No Time Like the Present

“(Right now) Hey! It's your tomorrow. (Right now) Come on, it's everything. (Right now) Catch that magic moment. And do it right here and now. It means everything.” - Right Now by Van Halen – song excerpt

I have started this post with an excerpt from Van Halen’s song titled Right Now due to the fact that it is up to us to change this world for the better and make a world of Acceptance instead of one of fear and hate. 
Once again it is the start of Autism Acceptance Month here in Northern Virginia, our 3rd celebration thanks to my urging in 2011, this time right on the heels of the CDC’s latest statistical release which will of course add tinder to the fire for the supposed “Autism crisis”, we are now 1 in 68.  The masses have already begun to sound the outcry.  There is no crisis, there never was, people are confusing access with crisis, we have always been here, it is just that people are having more access to information sharing and access to diagnosticians, etc.  The internet has played a big part in this exchange for example.  There is no reason for hysteria that leads to the proverbial men wielding torches trying to run all us out of town, very much like what was depicted in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 
We are not monsters to be feared or to be used for exploitation so that a major Autism “charity” can make more money for their inflated salaries, etc.  We are individuals who are all unique and deserve respect and love. 
The propaganda machine at Autism Speaks churns out misinformation and lies like butter and the unsuspecting masses “eat it up with a spoon” never realizing that they are buying into hate and ignorance instead of working toward Acceptance and understanding.  On April 2nd they held their annual Light It Up Blue campaign, just one such rallying scheme that Aut$peaks has dreamed up.  They coaxed people all over the world to take part in the “exciting” blue puzzle wave, from Antarctica to Sydney to New York to you name it people turned on blue lights.  The masses joined in without realizing that they too were a part of the problem and aided in spreading hate. 

Autism Speaks is a scary Autism “charity” in that they make you think they are doing something helpful, but in reality only 3% of money raised actually goes to services for us, there are no Autistics on their board, their executives have 6-figure salaries, etc., etc.  They exploit Autistics to fill their coffers from pity fund-raising to you name it and have even been known to steal and use Autistics’ words for their own nefarious purposes.  I will not go on about them, you can find many sites on the web that decry them, have a look and you too will understand why I will never jump on the Light It Up Blue bandwagon. 
Hate and fear do not move things forward they keep things where there are, stagnant, building a wall around positive thought, barring the world from the light of reason and inspiration, in many cases it turns the cycle in reverse.
What is needed is real Acceptance for Autistics, in our families, in our communities, in our schools, and in our workplaces, etc.  From understanding us on our terms, as in actually taking the time to listen to us, even if we are nonverbal, the true seeds of Acceptance will be sown and encouraged to grow, fostering new generations to recognize and Accept the many talents and differences of those who make up humanity. 
We need to work toward Acceptance for all Autistics, ourselves, our children, our family members, our friends, colleagues, etc.  Acceptance starts with you, it is up to you to move away from “cures”, “fixes”, “trying to be normal”, etc., encouraging others to do so as well and move toward a world where differences are just another part of what makes us human.  Autism is a Spectrum; learn to embrace its many hues of brilliant color. 
Even Bob Marley has something that will inspire you to action with an excerpt from his song titled Get Up, Stand Up: “Hey, get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight. Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight”.  It is when we quit trying, fighting, and standing up for what we truly believe in: our Autistic Rights, the rights of your Autistic children, etc., that we become complacent and lose a bit of ourselves more and more each day. 
We are fighting for such things as the right to not be bullied (not at school, online, at work, at the store or anywhere for that matter) for just being and acting as our Autistic selves – stimming, rocking, etc.; the right to get accommodations that help us; the right to have a voice in the conversation about us and not to be excluded from it; etc., etc.  If you want to make the right world filled with Autism Acceptance you have to work and fight for it.  Talk to everyone you know, even people who do not agree with you, explain your case for Acceptance, you will run into naysayers and it may dishearten you, but do not give up, keep trying, in time those naysayers will understand your message and join the cause.  Acceptance benefits all, not just we Autistics.  We can make a better world for all Autistics.  This is something worth fighting for and to claim for future generations, what we do now will effect the world they will live in and do we not want to give them something better than what we have, my answer and yours should as well be a resounding YES! 
Please remember that Autism Acceptance is so much more than you accepting your Autistic diagnosis or your child’s, it is about society as a whole accepting Autistics for who we are, verbal or nonverbal, stims and all.
So go forth during this Autism Acceptance Month and every month hereafter spreading the word about Acceptance, do your part!  To echo Bob Marley and Van Halen respectively, “Hey, get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight” and “Catch that magic moment and do it right here and now. It means everything.”  Every movement starts with a spark, now is your chance to be that spark! 
There is no time like the present to make a better world! 
As ever, I hope that you and your families have a good Autism Acceptance Month!  :)