Today is World Autism Awareness Day, twenty five years on from when it was first set up by the UN. Twenty five years of little voices being lost in our noisy world. There are days for this, weeks for that, months for the other; it’s impossible to keep up with them all. And the majority of people aren’t even aware.
Many Autism advocates and allies are campaigning for much more than awareness. We’re not content with awareness: we want nothing short of acceptance as our right. That is a worthy goal, but for me it still falls short. I have been inspired by tweets from my friend @SoniaBoue calling for Autistic Pride.
I am proud to be Autistic. It is an inseparable part of who I am. I want to celebrate my Autism, dance in the street and party, hang banners from the buildings and lamp posts. I want to happy flap amidst rainbows and shiny things.
For many people outside the Autism community we are objects of pity, defined by our differences and limitations. Autism Speaks (and others) have been very effective at portraying us as tragically broken. But the real tragedy is the ignorance and fear they have created.
We are people. We have the right to be treated with respect and compassion. We have the right to equal treatment, the right to a presumption of competence, the right to make independent choices about our lives. We have the right to be proud of who we are.
I’m not going to plaster my profile with various symbols purporting to symbolize Autism. Instead I am just going to say this,
I am Autistic and I am Proud!