Apparently on Saturday it was Autistic Pride day. I have to admit I had no idea about this, and only realised it existed due to the tweets I was reading on Saturday afternoon. This is why I am only posting about it once, and late.
Of course never having heard of it, when I started seeing people tweet about it, I wanted to find out more. What is the idea of the day? Why is there such a thing as Autistic Pride? And might it be something I am interested in the nest time it comes around?
From what I can understand the notion of Autistic Pride day, or at least the way people choose to use it, is almost to counteract the effect of Autism Awareness month. Not to imply that in itself is a terrible thing, or that all of the content put out during that month is bad. But what you do find is that there tends to be a lot of conflict; some people want to `Light it up Blue` for example, while others are opposed to this, and there are stunts such as people locking themselves in glass boxes that are supposed to help autistic people. Overall, despite the idea of raising awareness of autism, it can be a conflicting and difficult month for anyone in the autism community, especially autistic people. A lot of the tweets that I saw hash tagged with Autistic Pride day stated very clearly that this was not a day to raise awareness for autism. It was not a day to raise money, or to push some cause, and it was also not a day for charities or carers or family members. It was a day for autistic people simply to acknowledge each other, and take some level of pride in being themselves.
A lot of the tweets I saw made this pretty clear. And there did seem to be a sense, especially with some of the younger autistic people who were tweeting, that it was a relief just to have a day where autistic people could actually take centre stage in the autistic community. Now as I say, I don`t know a huge amount about Autistic Pride day, and what I have written above is just what I understood from the tweets that I saw. But for me I like the notion of having a day that isn’t about awareness, that isn’t about how autism can impact on other people, and that isn’t even about a singular aspect of being autistic. But is rather just a chance for autistic people to feel in some way part of a community of people similar to themselves.
So why would there be Autistic Pride? Well this is just my personal view, and it will be completely different for other people. I am not proud of the fact that I am autistic, but I am not ashamed of it either. It is not something I had any control over so it is not an achievement on my part. But for me, I feel that there is certainly an idea among neuro-typical people that if you are autistic, and you achieve something you have done that despite your autism, or by overcoming your autism along the way; as if I can be proud of who I am, and what I have achieved, but not that particular aspect of myself. But I don`t see my autism as separate from who I am. If I achieve something, for example I publish a book, then I am proud of that. I am not proud of myself for `over-coming my autism` and publishing a book. For me, and again this is just a personal opinion, the notion of autistic pride is about saying that I can be proud of myself for doing things, or be proud of who I am as a whole, without discounting a huge aspect of myself, and what makes Me, Me. If I am proud of who I am, and autism is integral to who I am, then in a way then yes, I suppose I am proud to be autistic. And I think the notion of Autistic Pride could go some way to dispelling the myth that autism is a negative, destructive force, or a shameful part of us.
So is this something that would interest me in the future? I don`t know if Autistic Pride day is an official event, or if it was just a hashtag started on Twitter so I have no idea if there will be another or not. But yes it is something that I would have an interest in. It is important to make sure that something like this doesn’t become corrupted, and end up being used by the wrong people for the wrong means – in the vein of Autism Awareness month and campaigns such as `Light it up Blue` https://askpergers.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/light-it-up-blue-but-for-who/ The idea should always mean being guided by what autistic people want, and not by what non- autistic people feel is best, or appropriate.
For me it was nice to be able to go on to Twitter, and see people just saying that they are proud of who they are, and including autism in that. This of course is something that you can do all year round, and you should do, but it would be nice to continue to have at least one day that is just about autistic people, and not the wider autism community.
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