Today marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, and with it comes campaigns which hide behind autism to portray their own damaging motives. For that reason, I refuse to Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness.
You might be confused by that statement, considering that I’m autistic myself, so let me explain.
Light It Up Blue was set up by Autism $peaks to run alongside autism awareness month in April. This charity is problematic for several reasons, with some autistic people claiming the charity uses autism as a front for installing fear in communities and to support eugenics. It’s no secret that, up until recently, autism speaks stated that they hoped to find a cure for autism openly on their site. Did you know that only four percent of funds raised go towards supporting actually autistic people and their families? If you want to read more about why you shouldn’t support this charity, you can do so by clicking here.
Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first person not to know the truth behind this campaign. Even larger companies like the London Eye were unaware of the negative connotations behind this campaign until recently. This company specifically listened to complaints made against them, and have decided to make changes as a result. Instead of lighting the London eye blue on Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, they’ve chosen to light it up pink instead. This is in support of the UK charity, National Autistic Society, as they announced earlier this week.
This campaign has spread a lot further than where it originated in the US, too. That means people in other countries are innocently supporting something with no idea of the negative connotations behind it. In the UK, Autism Speaks presents as Autistica. This means even people who don’t want to support the charity may be doing so without meaning to.
A lot of my Facebook friends in England last year changed their profile pictures in support of the campaign. I knew then that I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know how to express that to people. I hope this blog post provides people with an explanation I wasn’t able to provide at that time.
But if not this campaign, how can we support Autism Awareness/Acceptance in April?
Fear not; I have just the thing!
Red Instead is a campaign created by Actually Autistic people to offer a more realistic view of our disability. It aims to drown out the negative information spread by the Light It Up Blue campaign, by promoting love instead of fear. It also promotes the idea of Acceptance, because awareness isn’t enough to understand us. This campaign also provides you with another way to support autism this month, with a Facebook profile picture. You can do this yourself by clicking here. You can find their accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram at @beredinstead for more information.
I also recently discovered another campaign, aptly named Tone It Down Taupe. This aims to do similar things to the #REDinstead campaign by toning down the fear rhetoric, and alarmism. Their belief is that you don’t need to light anything blue to show support for autistic people. You can find their accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook at @Toneitdowntaupe for more information.
In reality, I know my words are like a drop in the ocean in this conversation. As one person, I have very little influence over changes that are made, but I am not alone. I am part of a collective of autistic people sick of being ignored, spoken over and insulted. I’m part of a community who are sick of people thinking that cure culture is okay, ignoring how much it excludes autistic people, and how it makes us feel.
If you have made it this far, please don’t ignore what I’ve written. Join the campaigns which support autistic people, instead of those that actively working against us. Listen to Actually Autistic people duringthis month, the true autism experts, instead of those who wish to cure us. Some autistic people fear April so much they actively avoid social media throughout. Let’s change that.
Thanks for reading, and until next time,