By JenTroester on March 27, 2011
I am a bad Autism mom. Probably a not so great member of the community at large.
Well, some probably think so.
Lately, there has been a ton of talk about autism awareness. New, and supposedly improved, campaigns for awareness. The whole Parents magazine thing. Everyone is on overdrive since April is autism awareness month, so we need to get the message out now!
I should jump on board all these causes. I should have a whole blog post written to sent to Parents. I should be telling everyone I meet about Autism, and that I am not a just bad parent with a bad kid.
But, I'm not.
Here's the thing. There are a lot of causes out there I know nothing about. A lot of worthy causes that I have no real desire to learn about, just because I have enough on my plate. Why should I expect every stranger on the street to care what's going on in my life? Sure, it's great to get the word out, and I would love just as much as the next person to get fewer looks when out in public. But, who am I to demand people drop everything and listen? Who am I to tell people what they should and should not care about? I am not out there making sure I am up to date on every other childhood disorder, so why expect more form anyone else?
I am also not a fan of how some people go about raising "awareness". I read the comments on the Facebook page of Parents magazine. People were outraged they hadn't included anything on Autism in their April issue, and were not exactly nice when letting the magazine know. Frankly, if it was me running the show, I wouldn't have given in to any of those parents. You catch more flies with honey, people. Being an angry mob is just not the image I want to portray of the Autism community.
Is it so hard to say, "hey, maybe you guys don't know, but April is Autism awareness month, and it would be great if you could find a way to promote it"? Well, actually, I know the answer after reading the comments. Apparently, YES, it is too hard.
The kicker is, even after Parents said they would put personal stories up online, people still weren't satisfied because it was online and not in the magazine. I am shaking my head, because do people not understand acting this way is going to get us nothing in the future? This is not how we make connections and build bridges?
Autism affects my life. MY life. I think because it is such a personal thing to people, they get really heated over wanting everyone to take notice. But, you have to separate your feelings from the raising awareness side of things. Forcing information down someone's throat...brow beating a magazine into publishing something you write...what does that accomplish in the long run? To me, it sounds like the bullying we all say we stand against. Ironic.
Just to be clear, I am 100% for educating and raising awareness. I just want the rational voices to be heard above the angry ones. The (hopefully) small percentage of people who are rude and inflammatory when trying to get the word out do not speak for me.