Autistic People live Autistic lives year-round. We’re not here for “just a month” – we are ALWAYS Autistic every day.
Today is April 1st. In addition to being April Fools Day (which I don’t personally celebrate), April 1st is the first day of “Autism Month” (formerly Autism Awareness Month, now Autistic Acceptance Month in many circles).
I have many feelings about April, watching it come and go since I first learned that I am Autistic over six years ago.
My first April knowing my Autistic brain, I was naively excited about having a month to talk about Autism. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned to frustration and dread once the reality of this month became apparent.
The reality of this month is that it is only one month, where suddenly organizations and people shift their focus to Autistics, forgetting we exist the other 11 months out of the year.
Every April, we are inundated with false performative alliship from organizations and people worried about what will make themselves look more inclusive (without doing the work we ask them to do).
The reality of this month is that on May 1st, it will be as if April never happened, and most people will change their logos back to what they were in March and won’t make the changes needed to help Autistic People live successful and empowered lives.
Every April, Autistics take to the internet, telling non-autisitcs what we need, begging to be heard, pleading with non-autistics and organizations without Autistic leadership to STOP talking over us (and let us tell our own stories).
The reality of this month is many who are not Autistic will use this month selfishly, profiting off Autistics, selling services and products, promoting their blogs, and speaking OVER Autistics People who tell you EVERY year what we need from our true allies.
Every April, we brace ourselves for poorly written articles thought up by non-autistic people (that lack Autistic input). We watch the harmful and stigmatizing “awareness style” information campaigns made to spread fear about an “Autism Epidemic” that Autistics know is due to more people finally learning what Autism is.
Here I am, the first day of a month, which I know will be a roller coaster, but I’m more hopeful this year than in previous years.
Though there will undoubtedly still be plenty of performative alliship and harmful misinformation to debunk (as there is every April), each year, I’ve noticed more and more Autistic voices taking up more and more space that once upon a time would have ONLY been reserved for those who had proximity to us (parents, guardians, medical professionals).
Every year I see less and less focus on these non-autistic voices in favor of Autistic ones. We are finally taking control of what should have always been ours. I’m encouraged by seeing the narrative change and thrilled that we can finally tell our own stories.
Six years ago, Autism Month was Autistic voices begging to be heard over all the non-autistics speaking over us.
Six years ago, almost all the stories being told by the mainstream media in April were accounts of non-autistic parents, medical professionals, and service providers. (sharing how hard and unpleasant it is to deal with people like us).
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