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 Hero, Executive 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