Happy World Autism Acceptance Day!
Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Acceptance Day, more commonly known as World Autism Awareness Day. It is often celebrated with puzzle pieces and blue lights, but as I mentioned in yesterday's post, Autism Acceptance: A Primer, neither puzzle pieces nor blue lights are positive symbols for Autism or Autistic people.
Why not Light It Up Blue?
The Light It Up Blue (LIUB) campaign is the reason for the sudden appearance all the aforementioned blue lights in April. It is a "signature campaign" of Autism Speaks, an anti-Autism/anti-Autistic organization that many Autistic people consider a hate group. The fact that the campaign is associated with Autism Speaks is, in and of itself, more than enough reason not to participate in it, but that's not the only problem with it.
Light It Up Blue also perpetuates the false belief that Autism is most common among male individuals (the color blue was picked because it's often viewed as a "male color"). This belief is based upon a diagnostic bias that favors males and results in Autistic males being diagnosed far more frequently than non-male Autistics. Campaigns like Light It Up Blue reaffirm the false beliefs and stereotypes that lead to the diagnostic bias, which prevents it from being resolved.
Light It Up Blue does the exact opposite of "shining a light on Autism." It spreads false beliefs about Autism and directs support towards an organization that actively shuts out and silences Autistic voices.
What's the alternative?
The #RedInstead campaign and Tone It Down Taupe, as I mentioned yesterday, are both wonderful, pro-Autism/pro-Autistic alternatives to Light It Up Blue. I, personally, prefer the #RedInstead campaign, just because red is more visually noticeable than taupe, and because #RedInstead is a slightly more well-known campaign, but it's really just a matter of personal preference. Frank Ludwig, another Autistic activist, has summed up the prevailing sentiment in his post How Autism Speaks Hijacked World Autism Awareness Day - Anything But Blue, where he declares that "Lighting it up any other colour means supporting diversity, our right to speak for ourselves and the concept of autism acceptance."
So go #RedInstead, Tone It Down Taupe, or use just about any other color that isn't blue to celebrate Autism acceptance both today and throughout the rest of the month. Just remember to take into account whether you live in an area where certain colors are associated with gangs - your safety should always come first, so please don't risk your life for one of these campaigns.
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