Autism Awareness: We Have A Long Way To Go

Last week, fresh off the most dreaded day of the year for people with ASD (April Fools Day; it can be damn scary to not know when something is a joke or not, especially when others' take advantage of that) was World Autism Awareness Day. It's great to see autism getting more awareness, a view that it is a variety of normal. How I wish there'd been some of that when I was relentlessly bullied for being "an alien" in primary school! (And bullying awareness, too; there was a view then that if a kid was being bullied, it was their won fault really - have you tried making friends with them/staying out of their way? I digress).

So Facebook and Twitter filled up with memes and posts relating to autism. But overwhelmingly, they were related to kids. I wonder how many of the people pleading for awareness of autism in cute seven year old boys would react if they tried to strike up a conversation with an autistic adult? What with the awkwardness and lack of eye contact? Not too well, a few of them. Sadly it seems autism awareness runs out once puberty hits. There's an epidemic of autism in the young, it's true, but their parents and carers need to realise these kids are going to grow up, and quickly, and at the rate we're going they'll be maturing into a world that is completely unequipped for and unresponsive to their needs.

I didn't realise just how bad it was though until I read of an autism awareness fundraiser...casino night. Really? Really? Bright flashing lights, loud music, excitement and confusion...exactly the sort of event very few people with autism would feel comfortable attending, likely to induce sensory overload and possible meltdown. A casino night for autism awareness seems like holding a symphony concert to raise money for hearing impaired people, or a cerebral palsy stair climb. Wouldn't you at least want the people you're benefiting to be able to attend and enjoy your event? But I bet not. With the best of intentions I'm sure the organisers haven't considered that adults with autism may want to get involved in this; they're thinking of kids, but it seems insensitive and inappropriate to hold a fundraiser for a group in the form of an event that group cannot attend. Some might say "well, what about parents of kids with autism? Maybe they would like to get out and have some fun?" Sure, but there's ways of having fun that don't result in sensory overload for those on the spectrum. It would be highly inappropriate to argue that parents of sight-impaired kids should get to have some not-blind fun.

I don't know. I really support this cause, but I wish they'd rethink their choice of fundraising event. It smacks of insensitivity where I'm sure none was meant, and excludes the people they hope to help. Until there's awareness that autism affects all ages, we've a long way to go.

Comments

  1. Hi Silkmanico. I hope we addressed your concerns yesterday regarding the 'Doing More for Jase' Casino Benefit night for Autism.
    As discussed, our target audience for the night focuses promarily on corporate and community sponsors so that we're able to generate proceeds for ASD support services; such as, Firstchance and ASPECT. The Casino aspect is merely a theme to differentiate the benefit dinner to our target audience. There won't be any flashing lights, excessive noises, or actual gambling; but the venue does dictate guests should be 18+. In the past we have had a number of guests with ASD and would encourage any 18+ wishing to attend to please do so!
    We're sorry for the confusion and I hope that clears up your concerns.

    Best wishes,
    'Doing More for Jase'

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