Image is the AWN logo with blue and purple floral garnishes on a spring green background

Another Autism Awareness Month is Almost Here. Yay

I’m aware.

I’m aware that the way that I am is considered “disordered” and wrong.

That people expose laboratory mice to infections in order to try to recreate the way I naturally am. In their efforts to “help” me to be something I’m not.

I’m aware. Very aware.

I’m aware that an invisible caste system has been created, and that Autistic people who look like me – Black and brown – reside near the bottom. If they are women or nonbinary, a little lower still. If they happen to be nonspeaking, even lower. White, cisgender Autistic males – those similar to characters portrayed in all the media depictions of what a “typical” Autistic person is like – occupy the top rung.

To the world, they are the real autism. We, on the other hand, are just inconvenient shadows.

I’m aware that the world largely misunderstands what it’s like to be me. Views my very existence as a form of “overcoming.” My very life an anomaly. Or genetic mistake. Or an environmental one. Pick your theory…

My mother was too old when she had me, or perhaps it was my father? It was something she inhaled during pregnancy. Or something she ate. Or didn’t ear? She failed to snap her fingers and blink her eyes three times while standing on one foot in a field of dandelions, and therefore I turned out Autistic.

It’s her fault. I’m sure of it.

Of that I’m aware.

I’m aware that in 48 hours the month I have come to dread more than any other month will be upon us. Thirty days of hell.

A month long sentence of puzzles pieces and blue lights and autism-inspired inspiration porn, all in the name of “awareness.”

I know what’s coming. I loathe it; I fear it. But I cannot stop it.

I’m aware that it’s coming.

I’m aware that my voice is but one small blip in the cosmos. Insignificant and minuscule; possessing minimal influence and minimal impact in comparison to the avalanche that is April.

I raise it anyway.

Resist anyway.

Protest anyway.

I’m aware that I am outnumbered.

That I cannot defeat the monstrosity that calls itself Autism Awareness Month.

But I’m aware that I am not alone.

And though I cannot avoid it, I shall survive it.

3 thoughts on “Another Autism Awareness Month is Almost Here. Yay”

  1. I am one of those on the “top rung” of the Autistic ladder. Lucky or not, I am privileged in more ways than one but ashamed of any ladder that puts me above others. There’s nothing wrong with a month of honest reflection and much called for effort to see through the artificial crap that turns human diversity into a hierarchy of marginalizing qualities. But “awareness months” revolving around diversity have become false celebrations. They often pay lip service to equality while they amplify the misunderstandings that make people feel like “inconvenient shadows.” No wonder those who don’t conform with typical expectations for the way a person is “supposed” to be feel even more devalued and unheard. Louder and more glamorous celebrations are not the answer. Ongoing humility, real listening, and allowing ourselves to learn from those who society typically ignores would be infinitely preferable to a limited period of “awareness building.” Who’s ready for that?

  2. Thank you for this. I’m generally very good with words, but also very new to the diagnosis scene. As a Black/Native woman living with Autism, but with light skinned privilege, I have had to figure out where my “place” is in the bullshit social hierarchy, while fighting for myself and anyone alongside and “below” me. To people like us, the question is never whether or not to be brave. It seems to be how much we’re willing to face in terms of consequences. It’s going to be a lifelong challenge, but I’m glad to have women like you alongside me.

    For AAM, I’m going to be sharing my unique perspective of living immediately post-diagnosis. Having to crush those societal stigmas myself. Addressing the ones I might still have. Building empathy. Telling my story. Some people are going to get up and leave, but the ones who stay will be fighting alongside me. So, I’m using AA, as well as every month from now on, to yell to the world about myself, over the memes and puzzle piece crap, and highlights of white men. This year, and next year, and for as long as I can.

  3. Pingback: Autism News, 2018/04/11 – Ada Hoffmann

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