April is finally here and today my timeline on social media was flooded with articles, poems and blogs related to autism because April is Awareness month and 2nd April is World Autism Awareness Day!
Fantastic! I love it.
A month dedicated to raising awareness of what autism is, explaining how it affects everyone differently, how to support those on the spectrum and many other topics related to autism.
Posters are displayed on social media and in workplaces, certain buildings light up in honor of autism awareness, autism will be ‘trending’ all over the web and generally, autism will be one of the most talked about things in the world this month.
Whilst this is great, there are parts of it that are not so great.
Without question, there will be debates about the lighting up of buildings and the wearing of a certain color to raise autism awareness.
As people have different experiences, come from different countries, etc., it soon becomes evident that no matter what color you choose (if you choose any) it will offend or upset someone else.
Without realizing it, you find yourself in a debate or discussion around this and often it can become quite heated.
I’m not even sure what color is ‘acceptable’ anymore. Questions will be thrown into the conversation such as - do we need a color anyway?
Can’t’ we just stick to the puzzle piece colors… (that in itself opens up a whole new wave of disagreements, the use of a puzzle piece is seen as offensive to some).
As above, the puzzle piece gets mixed reviews despite it being a more recognized sign.
Some find it offensive, they feel they are not puzzles to solved and that they are not a ‘missing piece’. Others really like the puzzle symbol, saying that, to them, it matches how they feel.
That they are finding out who they piece by piece.
The infinity symbol in a rainbow of colors is becoming very popular, yet some don’t like the rainbow.
The use of language.
Autistic person or a person with autism? My daughter is autistic, and she likes to use both. But when you’re blogging or even just chatting in support groups, you can end up accidentally offending someone by whichever one you choose.
April will see a rise in the discussion of language choice.
I’m all for personal choice on all of the above, I think it’s become very easy to argue on the internet behind a keyboard these days.
With everyone coming from different countries, backgrounds, cultures, experiences….. we’re never all going to agree and that’s OK.
The world would be a boring place if we all did!
But perhaps we need to remind ourselves that it is a personal choice.
If someone likes the puzzle piece it doesn’t mean they deserve abuse. If someone chooses to light it up blue/red/gold/rainbow then it’s their choice to do that.
Awareness is great and very much needed but it’s simply the foundation piece that leads to understanding, acceptance, support, and opportunities.
How we raise awareness shouldn’t matter if it’s not harming anyone.
Don’t forget that often, many of us don’t know these hidden ‘rules’ and in a bid to raise awareness we may end up choosing something others don’t agree with.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, their own choices, but April often brings more arguments than awareness.