As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, we believe it is important to understand how autistic people view it, and find out what it means for them. A BuDS supporter, Hannah (17) has written for us a short piece about what Autism Awareness Month means for her. With her blessing, we have published this piece below.
“As a person with autism who has been aware of autism long before my diagnosis this is the first year that I have even heard about autism awareness month. I do not believe it spreads the right information for autism and in fact I think it sadly has become a breeding ground for more misinformation being spread. I myself have seen at least 2 videos about finding a “cure for autism” and another video about donating to autism speaks to help, autism speaks well know autism group that spreads misinformation and promoting finding a “cure” autism. I have yet to see one video or post from a company that doesn’t feel fake or like a cash grab. Another disappointing aspect that is common in spreading awareness for autism is the use of the puzzle piece, this insinuates that autistic people have a missing piece which is not only incorrect but insulting to every single autistic person.
My hope for something like autism awareness month is to spread awareness in the correct way and listen to autistic voices and take their opinions before any information is spread. I would love to see companies showing the autistic people who work for them and how they support them in work, something like this could highlight that people with autism can live an independent and fulfilled life. I have only seen one good piece of media for autism awareness month, this was an advert from the Scottish government that was two years old. This advert not only had appropriate wording and correct information but showed an adult womam with autism which challenges peoples beliefs that’s its a condition for boys or children. But if I could just choose one thing to happen for autism awareness month it would be each school having an assembly on autism, they would be presenting correct information that has been read and confirmed by autistic people or even better done by them. In an ideal world it would specifically mention women with autism and discuss the stigma around them and the differences for women and men with autism.
I do believe something like autism awareness month could be beneficial for autistic people like me but it needs more positive and informed publicity as well as information that is easy to access and understand. My dream is for there to be less stigma and misunderstanding around autism and my hope is one day autism awareness month could contribute to that.”