Please DON’T light it up blue for World Autism Awareness day

World Autism Awareness Day is big bucks these days, and organisations, businesses and even government buildings around the world are now “lighting it up blue” for autism. While pretty blue buildings and monuments are undoubtedly pleasing from a sensory perspective, this year I urge you to reconsider your support of their campaign. Here’s why.

While doing stunts for charitable causes can tbe beneficial in some cases (how many of you had heard of ALS before the Ice Bucket Challenge barreled across social media?), just like the pinkified Breast Cancer Awareness industry, Autism does not need more awareness.

We are already “aware” of autism – what autistic people need from society is more widespread education about our neurological differences, and willingness from the neurotypical majority to accommodate us in situations they may never have considered before as “unfriendly” to autistic people.

No amount of fundraising, puzzle piece t-shirts or baking blue cupcakes is going to change the fact that we live in a world designed at almost every turn to accommodate neurotypicals, with very little thought to improving the lives of actually autistic people, especially autistic adults.

So you want to be an ally but don’t know where to start? Ask your autistic friends or family members how you can accommodate them, and what triggers them. Become aware of their particular needs and sensitivities, for example:

  • Do they struggle to hold a conversation with more than one person or with background noise?
  • Do they get stressed or confused when plans change or when you are ambiguous with your words?
  • Do they heavily mask and then need days (or even weeks) to socially recover?
  • Do their facial expressions not match their internal emotions?

If you are a business owner that serves the general public, consider how you can be more inclusive of those with different needs. Do you own a shop? Maybe reconsider the use of very bright lighting or loud music for “atmosphere”. Do you have a restaurant? Then make sure you take bookings online or by e-mail. Ask autistic people what they need and actually LISTEN to them.

Autistic people don’t need gimmicks, buildings lit up in our honour, or for you to change your profile picture to a puzzle piece. (Pro tip: many autistic people hate the puzzle piece and what it represents)

And we certainly don’t need a cure.

5 thoughts on “Please DON’T light it up blue for World Autism Awareness day

  1. Thank God most of the autism community is NOT This way. Sorry but I MOST certainly WANT A CURE for my son! You do not speak for everyone and this country does need MORE EDUCATION!!

    • And what does your son want?

      Please provide evidence that “most” of the autism community is not this way.

    • The autism community consists of people who are autistic and I’ve never met am autistic person who wishes to be cured.
      You wanting to “cure” your son feels so sad to me, why can he not be accepted by you as he is? Why doesn’t he need to be changed?
      Autism isn’t an illness or disease it just that the brain works differently.
      He will very likely grow up to feel a lack of acceptance because you want to change him and that’s a really heavy thing to carry around.
      Please try to love him just as he is and embrace his autistic nature instead of wanting to change it. x

  2. “Most of the autism community”, do you mean like ‘warrior’ mums who’s only experience of autism is through having a child with autism as opposed to #actuallyautistic people? Maybe if people stopped stifling the views of actually autistic people then they might have a better understanding of their children and what it’s like to be autistic. We aren’t diseased, we are human beings with a different way if thinking and understanding, not something that needs to be ‘cured’! You don’t try to irradicate people with other conditions so why should autistics be any different…. yes people need educating but educating people on autism is probably something actually autistic people are in the best position to do. May I suggest you open your eyes and ears because actually autistic people do have a voice and it’s getting louder and we will be heard.

  3. As an autistic, I fully agree ! Thank you for speaking up for the #actualautistics. Too many warrior moms think they are the autism community, wrong… they are the ones (they believe) burdened by autism…. the ‘real’ autistic community dont want cure, we want to live a normal life without someone trying to ‘fix’ us !

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