Autism Advocate Kelly-Anne Smith, who supports and empowers neurodiverse families, is launching a campaign for autism awareness week to get autism awareness books into primary schools.
Here’s the details of her project:
“As we start autism awareness week 2021, I would love your support in changing that awareness into acceptance and genuine inclusion – which is why I’ve set up a fundraiser.
I wanted to do something tangible that all of our children and future society will benefit from – I want to get autism awareness books (by both neurotypical and autistic authors) into as many primary schools as possible. Please help by sharing and donating as much as you can 💓. Let’s make a positive change from awareness to acceptance and inclusion for our children – and let’s start today.” Visit Kelly-Anne’s fundraising page here. #OurNeurodiverseFamilies #autismacceptance #AutismAwarenessWeek #SENsationalWarriors
Visit Kelly-Anne’s ‘Autism & Parent Support: LivIng A SENsational Life’ Facebook group here.
Let’s look at autism and shame.
I heard a story recently from a parent, whereby a relative had reacted cautiously to the news of a seven year old’s autism diagnosis. The reaction was the often-seen trope of caution against labelling; not sharing the diagnosis widely with other children or adults; and guarding against potentially cruel people who may react badly to that difference by being careful about ‘public labelling’.
Autism’s shame narrative
This is a (sadly) common reaction from families. The narrative I see here though is not one of protecting a sensitive autistic soul against the reactions of their mean peers (although let’s remember that today’s school children are probably the most diversity-and-inclusion-educated kids the western world has ever seen); it’s a shame narrative.
There’s lots of info online about shame and its effects, for anyone interested in delving deeper – Hannah Rose LCPC writes: “Shame will lead us to feel incapable of growth and change.” The Peaceful Parent Institute writes: “Shame can result in lower self-esteem and negative self-talk, or potentially over time, [the child] losing belief in themselves.” It’s true that autism has a stigma attached to it, and like many marginalised groups, autists feel the brunt of this stigma.
The exact same narrative of not being openly yourself, outwardly fitting into the mainstream and hiding your differences is the viewpoint that’s historically caused many LGBTQ+ individuals to grow up feeling shameful.
Autism’s outdated viewpoint
It’s also an outdated viewpoint for the field of neurodiversity – diagnoses help children gain access to further support; diagnoses (from an educated viewpoint) help spread awareness of autism and other conditions to teachers and parents who would otherwise be none the wiser; and they help give the autistic child a sense of identity.
Trust me, growing up autistic with no diagnosis and no emotional support for your differences is crushing. A common simile that autists cite feeling like is ‘someone from another planet’. An outsider.
To deny a young autistic person a sense of agency, autonomy and individualism by effectively hiding their true self is to make them feel shameful.
Autism is not a label, just as Gay is not a label. An autistic person is autistic and a gay person is gay. Using shame based narratives says more about the person with this viewpoint and their core beliefs than it does about the individual in question.
The take home message here is, please support your autistic relatives to be themselves; they don’t have to shout their autisticness from the rooftops; they can disclose it when it’s appropriate and timely. But to deliberately hide or diminish it for fear of others’ reactions is not healthy.
#autism #actuallyautistic #neurodiversity #neurodivergence
WHY NOT READ THIS BLOG ON BEING AUTHENTICALLY AUTISTIC, TOO?
Exploring what being ‘authentically autistic’ means
A little disclaimer – here at Spectra.blog we don’t claim to be experts about autism; the information we post here is based purely on our own exposure and experiences. Our book ‘Autism from A to Z’ is now widely available – purchase here.