April is coming near, and so, it is almost Autism Acceptance Month.
You may have heard of Autism Awareness Month, of Autism Speaks, of Light it up Blue…
So let me make something clear: Autism Speaks does not speak for us autistic people. Allow me to share this flyer (courtesy of The Autistic Self Advocacy Network/ASAN:
So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about Autism Acceptance Month. Last year, Neurodivergent Rebel among others spoke of the #RedInstead hashtag as opposed to Autism Speaks’ #LightItUpBlue. The problem with this, however, is while it boycotts Autism Speaks and boosts actually autistic voices, it doesn’t take all autistic people into consideration.
Autistictic on Twitter was one of the people to voice their concern about Red Instead, explaining how people with color hypersensitivity and other conditions may experience red as an unsafe color (you can read their thread about this here on Twitter and visit their blog). They mention alternatives such as #LightItUpGold and #ToneItDownTaupe, explaining that gold may also be a bad choice if a shiny and/or glittery version is used.
If you’re interested in knowing more about color hypersensitivity, Autistictic wrote a good post about this.
You’re probably wondering what I’ll be doing during Autism Acceptance Month, and to be quite honest, I think I’ll be rather quiet myself. Advocacy takes a lot of time and energy, and I simply don’t have enough of those as of now to really be of much help. I’ll mostly be boosting the voices of other autistics, and I will be trying to stay far away from any blue puzzle-piece, Autism Speaks nonsense.
That brings me to the puzzle piece and why I really don’t like it as a ‘logo for autism’. When I was first diagnosed at 13 with Asperger’s, then with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 16 (which is a privilege, I know. I was on the waiting list forever) I saw the rainbow puzzle piece everywhere at the mental health care facility I went to. And I didn’t like it. To me, the puzzle piece – whether blue or rainbow-colored – symbolizes that I am incomplete, that I am complicated (like a puzzle), that I need to be made complete.
That is wrong. I am not incomplete. I may be complicated to many people, but I’m not a puzzle to be solved. I’m human, just like everyone else.
Don’t even get me started on the rainbow puzzle piece logo, which says to me that autism is like a disease, which it’s not.
(If you are interested in knowing more about me and my autistic identity and diagnosis, you can read about it in this blog post.)
To be quite honest, I love the color blue, and I hate how Autism Speaks took that away from me. Blue is a calming color to me, but now it stands for something negative as well.
Back to the logo, there have been some alternatives of the puzzle piece. ASAN uses a multi-colored wheel to represent us, showcasing the diversity among autistic people:
(source: ASAN wikipedia)
Then there’s the rainbow infinity symbol, used by many in the autistic community (in variations):
Personally, neither of these really speak to me. They’re too much, and as Autistictic explained, colorful symbols like these are inaccessible.
So please, as we go into April soon, keep these things in mind:
- Don’t support Autism Speaks
- Boost and listen to #ActuallyAutistic voices
- Make and keep Autism Acceptance accessible to everyone
(Special thanks to Autistictic, Neurodivergent Rebel and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network for their content, please check them out!)
A very ungraceful and mortal autistic student, artist and writer.