How to Really Support Autism

My mornings are pretty consistent – I wake up for the several alarms I’ve set neurotically, hit the off button, and browse on my phone to stay awake while snagging a few more minutes nestled in my comfy warm bed. While checking Twitter this morning to see if ODAAT was finally picked up by a network (fingers crossed), I saw so many posts for World Autism Awareness Day. So many puzzle pieces and #LightItUpBlue, so little time. You might also know that April happens to be designated National Autism Awareness Month. As an autistic woman myself, I felt compelled to set the record straight about some things that I take issue with when mostly well-intentioned people try to support autism as a cause. It’s not all bad, but there’s definitely some bad vibes that April gives to #actuallyautistic people like myself.

Language Matters

When you’re drafting a post to social media, you might spend some time thinking about hashtags, which filter, and definitely if you’re anything like me which gif to use (still not solid on how that’s actually pronounced). So why wouldn’t you spend some time thinking about the language you use on social media? I can’t tell you how many times in April I see people using language that’s often considered hurtful to both the autism and disability communities. Phrasing like handicapable, differently-abled, and special needs or calling people with disabilities inspirations or courageous. My biggest issue is with what is commonly referenced as inspiration porn. I recently discovered ABC’s Speechless, which is an amazing show that actually features genuine disability representation and needs to be renewed ASAP!! They hit the nail on the head in one of their episodes as they explained what inspiration porn is.

No Assembly Required

The imagery associated with autism of the puzzle piece may appear innocent, but it carries an implied meaning that can be hurtful to autistics like me. Think about the last time you tried putting together a puzzle. You had to look at the box to see if the pattern was even remotely close, scavenge for the right piece for a particular spot, and sometimes slam it into place before you realize that there was a missing piece. People are not puzzles!!! The analogy of a puzzle piece – especially when paired with that saying “until all the pieces fit” – implies that people on the autism spectrum need to be fixed or that something is wrong with us. The sooner we ditch the puzzle piece, the sooner we can change the narrative of autism as being something to fix when really it’s society that could benefit from changes.

Blue-Washing

Every April brings a wave of blue everywhere, which seems cheery enough, but again there’s an aspect that might not even cross your mind. When you think of the color blue, there are several associations you might make from raindrops to a beautiful clear sky. Of course, there’s also the association seen at many gender reveal parties with boys traditionally being represented with the color blue. When attached to something like autism, it wipes out the existence of other autistic people who identify as female or another gender identity. In 2019, we need to do better in not only recognizing but supporting all autistic people regardless of how they identify in terms of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Ditching Autism Speaks

Have you ever had that one acquaintance that’s always saying something really messed up? Enter Autism Speaks. For many well-intentioned people, Autism Speaks is the organization that you might give a donation to in April, but peel back the curtain and see the horrible ethos of the organization which ascribes to what is referred to as the medical model of disability. It essentially aims to fix or cure people with disabilities including autistics through medicine. In the case of Autism Speaks, their goals are made into reality with research for a cure and support of prenatal testing which aligns itself with other modern eugenics practices. Let me say emphatically: I and fellow autistics like myself – we are not broken and we don’t need to be cured!! They are an organization that not only fails to represent the support needs of autistics directly but is perfectly okay at the prospect of erasing autism and autistics like myself off the map. This op-ed published four years ago from The New York Times written from a parent’s perspective, while dated still provides a great perspective of the issue.

 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) also gives some thoughts in a prepared pamphlet on the ills of Autism Speaks’ practices as well as providing some helpful guidance on where to donate instead that will actually benefit people on the autism spectrum and not an organization participating in mass character assassination of autistic people. I leave you with this thread from NYT YA author Marieke Nijkamp that pretty much sums up my feelings to a T. I hope you enjoy the rest of your #WorldAutismAcceptanceDay and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

 
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Sunday Thoughts #1

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I stopped doing favorites posts for a few reasons. Some months I just didn’t have much to talk about. Sometimes my favorites were the same as past months and I didn’t want to be redundant. I didn’t really make a conscious decision to stop doing monthly favorites posts, they just sort of fizzled out. But aside from just sharing every little thing on Twitter, I’ve sort of missed having a regular place to share things I’ve been reading/watching/eating and just simply, enjoying.

So I thought I could start up something here on the blog – nothing fancy, and not exactly a favorites list per se. No rhyme or reason, and in all honesty, no consistency. I might do these weekly, monthly, or once and never again. We’ll just have to see. For now, let’s just get into what’s been on my mind lately:

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SHRILL – My lovely sister recently signed up for a Hulu membership, and set me up with a Roku, and I’ve been LOVING IT!! I’m pretty upset with Netflix right now, so I’ve been seriously enjoying all that Hulu has to offer. When I first heard about Shrill, I was intrigued but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever watch because I really wasn’t down for signing up for yet another streaming platform. Missy’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect because I was able to watch this new show and I honestly loved it so so so much.

I’m not sure how to even put my love for this show into words. It really made me feel some shit. Happy for such a wonderful show. Sad for my own struggle with acceptance and body positivity. Ecstatic to see what I was seeing, in a TV show. See – I still can barely articulate my feelings. Just know that the show is great and you should seriously watch it. I hope Hulu gives us more.

I said that I’m mad at Netflix right now, and that’s because they decided to cancel One Day at a Time after three wonderful, glorious, beautiful, emotional, seasons. They claim it wasn’t getting enough views. I say claim because Netflix doesn’t share their data. I’m sorry, but call me a skeptic, but I don’t buy it. First off – you can get data on any network show easily. The fact that Netflix doesn’t share their data is just plain dumb, and it bothers me. How do we ever know the truth regarding their content? Great for them, but crap for writers/actors/viewers/anyone else.

Beyond that, even if the show wasn’t doing well ratings wise, I’d say that Netflix has themselves to blame. I only first heard about One Day at a Time because I was doing research for a paper I was writing and was talking about Norman Lear. I then ran across an article discussing how there was a remake of One Day at a Time. I was on Netflix all the time and never once did I ever see anything about this show. I watched immediately and fell in love, but ever since, I’ve been quite aware of how shit Netflix has been when it comes to promoting this show. So to say they weren’t getting ratings, I feel you can put all the blame on yourself, Netflix.

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Because when they cancelled the show, #SaveODAAT was trending GLOBALLY for HOURS on twitter. Since the announcement tons of people have voiced their anger and sadness. People have come together to fight for the show to be picked up elsewhere, including Lin Manuel Miranda (how can you say no to him?!?) and fans of Brooklyn Nine Nine who successfully fought and found a new home for their show when it was cancelled (a show that is on my list to watch now that I’ve got Hulu).

I seriously hope that some network comes through and saves this show. We need more of these characters and their stories. We need the diversity and the representation. Shame on Netflix – a company that keeps triggering shows like 13 Reasons Why and cancels shows like ODAAT which beautifully, and honestly tackled mental health in a way I have never seen done before. CBS could pick up the show since they had the original. NBC saved Brooklyn Nine Nine, so I could see them saving the day again. I personally think One Day at a Time would fit wonderfully into a comedy block on ABC with Speechless (which is yet another show I’ve started watching and have fallen for hard, so please – #RenewSpeechless). One Day at a Time is honestly a show that I would follow and watch anywhere. If you haven’t seen the show yet, get on Netflix and watch the first three seasons!! Trust me, it’s beyond worth it.

I recently ordered some goodies from this wonderful Etsy shop called Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes and thank you brain fog because I totally forgot about it until it showed up in my mail box one day. Not only was it adorably packaged with confetti and sweets – but my pins and stickers are even better than I imagined. I love how bright and happy her designs are, in combination with the messages they display! I can’t wait to put the pins on my bag. The hard part is going to be deciding where to slap the stickers!

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I recently read this article about some of the issues with AirPods and I only feel more vindicated in my hatred of this product. I’m sorry, but I will NEVER pay over $100 for a pair of headphones that I will definitely lose somewhere. Beyond that, I think they look stupid and apparently their battery life is shit. My corded headphones? They have infinite battery life. 😉

Lastly, while I’ve been incredibly stressed and overwhelmed by grad school this semester, I’ve been finding comfort in two things recently: The Goldbergs (thank you again, Hulu), and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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I started watching The Goldbergs in reruns on TV Land because Hallmark has lost their mind and ruined their sitcom schedule (perhaps now that they broke up with Aunt Becky they could fix their schedule? I bet they’ve got space to fill…). At first I honestly wasn’t sure what I thought of the show, but it warmed up on me and now I’m really enjoying watching from the beginning. I’m only in season 2 now, but it’s really good. I am forever impressed by shows that are set in a specific time period and their attention to details in order to make that aspect believable. The Goldbergs is an excellent example of that. I’m loving the 80s vibes of this show.

When I first heard about Nintendo’s new system I was super intrigued. So of course, when it was released, I ran right out and got it. ….yeah, no. I’m nothing if not consistent, and that consistency includes being super late to the party with new tech. I picked up a Nintendo Switch last week, along with Stardew Valley and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I played a bit of Stardew and I basically gave up because I was having trouble doing things in the game and it was pissing me off (help?!). Zelda however, I’m LOVING!!! It’s such a gorgeous game and I love the flexibility and freedom which is always something that I’m drawn to in a game. I’ve only just begun to play the game so I’m not too far into it but I’m really, really, enjoying it. It’s been the perfect escape after working on giant papers for school. I also love the fact that when I feel like crap, the Switch is the perfect system for playing in bed. I’m a huge simmer, but there’s been plenty of times where it’s just too uncomfortable to sit at my desk to play. The Switch feels like the system I’ve been missing.

If you’ve got any game recs for me, please let me know! I’m eagerly waiting for Animal Crossing to be released for switch, but beyond that I’m not sure what games I should be looking into.

Alright, I’ve definitely rambled on long enough. Feel free to tell me what you’ve been enjoying lately in the comments. What have you been reading/watching/playing?