It is April. It is Autism Awareness Month. Our twitter feeds, Facebook pages and other social media accounts will no doubt be flooded with rainbows, jigsaws, blue or what ever symbol or colour they have chosen to use this year. But mine will not.
I don't feel the need to don my onesie for the day, or bake a load of cakes or whatever the latest ploy may be because to me it is just a publicity stunt. Lets roll in the latest charity case. What will it be next month?
To me 'stunts' like this do little to raise acceptance of autism but serve more to reinforce the stereotypes.
I am also uncomfortable with the fact that many of these campaigns are run by charities who lets face it want to make money therefore we tend to be shown the worse case scenarios. The cases that really pull at your heart strings and make you want to part with your hard earned cash.
It makes me feel really uncomfortable to be honest.
Where are the success stories? Where are the look at this amazing computer programmer who thanks to a brilliant mum and early intervention is now developing games for nintendo?
Where are the stories that I want to show my son???
Because after all isn't that who it is about? Autistic people, like my son. What message do I want to give him?
There will be some who say; Well isn't any publicity good publicity. Well in my opinion, no! Not if it reinforces stereotypes.
I would like to see documentaries showing autism success stories, brilliant artists, musicians, dancers, etc giving an honest account of their journey to get where they are now.
I would like people to see the diversity within the autistic community not only the extremes.
I would like to watch a concert with amazing autistic performers or a play with autistic actors.
I would like to see autistic sports people competing.
I would like to listen to autistic authors speak, like Temple Grandin or watch inspirational TED talks like Rosie King: How autism freed me to be myself or Steve Silberman's: The forgotten History of Autism.
I want acceptance! I don't want awareness.
So I will continue to try and challenge those stereotypes and raise awareness of the real issues that face autistic families on a day to day basis. I will continue to write about us honestly and in my own quiet way...
But I will keep one eye on Autism Awareness month. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?!