As many parents of children with autism, neurotypical people, and businesses prepare to “Light it up Blue” for autism awareness in April, many adults and teens with autism have different plans. A lack of support for the organization Autism Speaks by a growing number of individuals with autism is at the root of it all, as they feel that the organization does not support people with autism, but wishes to use fear of autism as a way to raise funds and support eugenics.
The online autistic community is calling for a boycott
The Boycott Autism Speaks #Facebook page, currently liked by more than twelve thousand followers, is an anti-Autism Speaks and anti-eugenics civil rights movement that states, 'We seek Acceptance, Inclusion, and Respect.'
On the morning of April 1, an entertaining infographic explaining their stance was updated on their Facebook page:
#redINSTEAD is gaining popularity
Originally hashtagged as #walkinred, the movement was changed to #redINSTEAD to be more inclusive, as not everyone has the ability to walk. This year's tweets in protest of Light it up Blue began on April 1, asking individuals and companies to join the movement away from awareness to embrace acceptance.
Going gold on Facebook is the path for some
Some adults with autism in social media have permanently changed their Facebook names to include Âû, symbolizing their pride in autism. As the characters also reflect the symbol for gold on the periodic table, many will be coloring their Facebook profile pictures gold for April.
Jake, a young man with autism who is an aspiring artist and writer, wrote a poem for autism acceptance. In part, one verse goes as follows:
'If you look you’ll find many Autistics and Aspies who feel shunned by those who embrace the blue and puzzle pieces.
The puzzle piece symbolizes the false notion that those it claims to serve need to be cured of who they are, that those like us need to be prevented in the future.
Awareness is indeed important, but so is acceptance of who we are.'
When asked what moved him to pen these verses, Jake told Blasting News, “I was moved to write it after being amazed how few knew about what the puzzle piece and Autism Speaks really stands for, especially those I thought were okay people on the art site. The majority of the people I saw posting art involving it were autistic themselves. I'm feeling sick now. There's a piece of one person's art character being told not to flap.”
Children grow up, and many come to see controversy, hate
The results of a 2014 survey showed that autism rates in the U.S. are closer to 1 in 45 in kids from 3 to 17, higher than previously thought. In fact, that may still be an underestimation of the full scope, as females, minorities, and those without #Health insurance are still underrepresented. Autism Speaks focuses on prevention (read: research into future prenatal genetic testing, which many call eugenics) and treatments, which do very little for those with autism who are already here. In fact, many people with autism find the cure-centric talk and fear-mongering to be highly insulting and harmful to how they are treated in society. Those with autism who have grown up see a very different view of this organization than people who do not have autism.
So, all the #actuallyautistic people are asking for is to be seen for who they are. For love, for acceptance, for the ending of fear and stigma, many people with autism ask that individuals and businesses not light anything blue, but go red, go gold, or just remember that those with autism do not want fear or pity, but acceptance. They only wish to be seen as people, not as a puzzle piece. #Buzz