#REDinstead for Autism acceptance – now, there’s an idea

redinsteadI’ve just come across the hashtag on Twitter – as an alternative to the Blue-colored designation that Autism is getting this month (particularly from Autism Speaks). At my workplace, there is a whole April campaign around wearing blue to work to show support for Autism, its difficulties, and the search for the “cure”.

The organization Autism Speaks has the following mission:

At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with an autism spectrum disorder.

We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism. We strive to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society: and we work to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.

Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.

And apparently in the Autism community, that’s not a terribly popular mission. Acceptance, rather than awareness, is their wish.

And I can support that. Because being in the “neurodiverse” community, treating differences as a vexation and a pox to be cured can be counter-productive. It’s just like all the talk about preventing concussions / brain injuries — there’s no guarantee you can ever do it, but it consumes a disproportionate amount of energy and discussion… only to leave the already concussed people out of the discussion completely.

Or treat us like we’ve failed — or are the results of a failure of some kind.

Prevention is all very well and good, but when it comes to inscrutable things like neurodiversity, wouldn’t it just make more sense to accept and learn to live well with what’s there?

When you focus so much on prevention and ‘cures’, you miss the management piece that’s so very important. Neurodiverse features come with their fare share of challenges, many of which are embarrassing and disconcerting to “neurotypical” folks around us. But it seems to me, the real problem is with the people who cannot — and will not — make the effort to understand us and work with us as we are, not how they wish we were.

I’ve been treated like an unwelcome bit of evidence of repeat failures for far too long, myself. I have no interest in extending that misfortune to others who are labelled as “deficient” by an organization that claims to be “helping”.


So, yes. Never mind the blue. I’m all for #REDinstead!


Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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