Autism Awareness ~ Not Fear

In the spirit of “Autism Awareness” month, I’ve decided to write at least a few posts this month devoted to the kind of “awareness” I would like to see more of.  Awareness can be subjective and the awareness being pushed, this month in particular but, most of the time is usually not the awareness I wish I had been given when my daughter was diagnosed almost nine years ago.  I believe awareness should help us, not make things more difficult.  In the best case scenario, awareness gives us options and makes us feel empowered to make better decisions.  Awareness is the opposite of ignorance, yet more often than not, when it comes to autism, so-called “awareness” becomes an abettor to ignorance.  This is not as it should be.  Awareness, in its true form, is a good thing, even if not easy, even if becoming aware is painful, even if awareness makes us uncomfortable, it (hopefully) leads us to act in a more thoughtful manner.

E., whose blog The Third Glance, is someone I urge everyone to follow.  I first became aware of E.’s blog shortly after I found Julia Bascom’s blog Just Stimming.  So within a 48 hour period I read Julia’s blog and then found E.’s blog and read My Cat is My HeroExecutive Function and Words, which describes in beautiful detail the pitfalls and distractions of having a conversation with a group of people.  Growing Up Autistic where she writes,  “Anything related to my Autism was punishable, regardless of the actual magnitude or relevance of the offense.”  A little farther along she writes, “I am Autistic. I was abused for it. My whole person was trained to be invisible and I was taught that I didn’t matter.

I read E.’s blog and I learned and my awareness increased and I started to see how things I’d been told, things I’d been made “aware” of were actually incorrect. E.’s blog was the kind of awareness I needed.  It was the kind of awareness that helped me make different decisions.  This was the sort of awareness that helped me understand, helped me take more informed actions, helped me seek out more information.   Isn’t that what “awareness is really all about?  Isn’t awareness suppose to be about gaining knowledge?  I want knowledge.  I don’t want knowledge disguised as fear.

Em, having appropriated my black shawl, takes a morning stroll in Tampa

**Em

11 responses to “Autism Awareness ~ Not Fear

  1. Again, you put your finger straight on the problem. Most of the “awareness” being pushed is fear mongering, in the guise of “awareness” of the prevalence of autism, complete with loaded words like ‘epidemic’.

    Thank you, yet again, for getting it right.

    • Thanks so much Andrew!

    • Perfectly stated, Andrew!
      I am SO thankful Twitter led me to this site. Its an amazing comfort to know there are parents who struggle with the same emotions, fears, just over-all concerns for what lies in wait for our children who struggle with Autism or ANY of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. I truly appreciate what you share here. You have opened my eyes by making even myself aware of what I feared simply because I did not understand it – or just flat out didn’t know about. My Mikayla was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in 2011, at age 7, after having gone through SO many tests and procedures, including genetic testing and EEG’s… always to be left with so many unanswered questions. THANK YOU for giving me insight and renewed HOPE!!

      Kristi

  2. Aw… Kristi, thanks so much. That makes me happy!

  3. Your right awareness of any kind should not cause fear it should educate and inform.

  4. Tomorrow on our blog, we are hosting my friend Lisa, who has an almost five year old son with autism. I asked her whether she wanted me to use the term awareness or acceptance in introducing her. She asked for awareness at this time, because she wants others to recognize that there’s a reason for her son’s behaviors. She thinks like you do, in a way. They are just newer to the journey, you know?

  5. Awareness in itself is just knowing the signs of autism, the diagnosis. But there is another kind of awareness, and that’s about the gifts of autism, like the special bond with animals, intense love for music, high intelligence level, etc.

    This kind of awareness focuses on eliminating the fear and understanding how an autistic person feels, how the autistic mind works, how the world is seen through their eyes, through Emma’s eyes, rathing than simply diagnosing autism.

    There should be more awareness, for instance, that autistic people aren’t more prone to violence than neurotypicals, and that we don’t lack empathy. Once you eliminate the myths, you’re doing a good job eliminating the fear.

    That’s not to say autism is all gifts. Should focus on the problems it creates, the good and the bad, the gifts and the pitfalls. But not make it sound like it’s all bad, just a beautiful journey with many bumps along the road.

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