April is Autism Awareness month, and to be frank, it has been making me feel uncomfortable.
My daughter has autism. So this should be my ‘thing’, right? Hooray, a whole month to raise ‘awareness’ about autism. World Autism Awareness Day was on April the 2nd. Everyone was encouraged to wear blue, landmarks around the world were lit up in blue lights, to raise ‘awareness’. The Sydney Opera House was lit up in blue, at cost of around $40,000.
At the same time, I started coming across articles and blog posts that disparaged the organisation that was running the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. Arguments that the money raised wasn’t used appropriately, that there is actually very little input from the ‘autistic community’. Suggestions that the ‘puzzle piece’ used in the organisations logo is offensive.
What does this all mean? I don’t know. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it really doesn’t matter. Not to me, my family, my daughter.
To be blunt, I don’t give a shit about anyones agenda. I am not an advocate for autism, I am an advocate for Milla. I don’t have time to argue about politics; who runs what organisations and why. I am too busy fighting for Milla. I don’t care about the supposed conspiracies of the government and the pharmaceutical companies, the arguments for and against immunisations. I care about Milla, her life, her future. Milla is my agenda, not autism.
The only thing I will say about Autism Awareness month, is that wearing blue, posting quotes on facebook etc are great at raising ‘awareness’ of autism, but awareness is not the same as ‘understanding’. I think most people are aware of autism, but there is still a long way to go to reach understanding. This post from Stuart Duncan explains autism in plain English, and Kate wrote this post about Three Things You Should Know About Autism. Alternatively, if you want to understand Milla better, ask me questions. If you know someone who’s child is on the spectrum, ask them questions about their child.
Being aware of something will never change the world, but understanding it just might.