‘I’m a haemorrhoid warrior!’ Why Autism T-shirts and ‘Autism Warrior’ garments are insidiously wrong
Do you remember the joke about putting a sign on someone’s back that says ‘kick me’? The idea is that they don’t know it’s there, and someone else gets to humiliate them. Isn’t a ‘knowing’ t-shirt a similar concept?
Would any child for example choose to wear a T-shirt that said:
“Warning – autism meltdown. Probability: high.” Or “I’m not a brat, I have autism.” Or “I can’t keep calm, I’m autistic.”
I doubt it.
Many of these horrible ‘autism shirts’ are sold in sizes for very young children who may not even know about their autism diagnosis. Or maybe they do know to a degree, but aren’t aware of the subtleties of some of the ‘jokes’, such as: “Ask me about my ADHD, or pie, or my cat, or dog…I saw a rock, hi.” etc.
Then there’s the ‘Autism Warrior’ or ‘Autism Mom’ shirts that effectively ‘steal’ the child’s identity or story, and scream ‘Look at me! Aren’t I amazing! I am an AUTISM MOM!’
What about the one that says: ‘This is what autism looks like. Any questions, ask my Mom’. Cleverly combing the ‘kick me’ sign with the ‘self congratulatory’ element. As clearly, asking the child themselves wouldn’t work, would it – the Autism Mom in question can clearly talk for her child.
As soon as anyone starts following pages on Facebook relating to Autism, jolly old Facebook will find you a delightful selection of crass T-shirts to look at.
Less offensive than these ‘novelty’ T-shirts are the pin-badges that say things like “Hello! I have Autism. Please Have Patience.” These at least have a purpose; asking for tolerance in a more discreet way.
To conclude, there’s surely something a little odd about wanting to shout about a family member’s personal issues. Would we for example wear a shirt extolling our own health challenges?
‘I’m a haemorrhoid warrior!’
‘I’m not limping, I have verrucas.’
‘This is what Athlete’s Foot looks like. Any questions, ask my daughter.’
The only way to stop the spread of these insidious ‘autism warrior’ style T-shirts is to NOT buy them. It’s really not big and it’s not clever!
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.
Also published on Medium.