Thursday, April 9, 2009

My take on "Autism Awareness Month"

I have a feeling that apologies for neglect may become a regular feature here. I won't bore folks with the details this time, but I've been buried when I haven't been sick (sick taking up a couple of my days).

I do have something to share today. Nonverbal learning disabilities are widely regarded as falling somewhere in the general category of "autism spectrum disorder." (I prefer the terms "cousin" or "AC" myself and have a story about that I'll share in the future.)

In deference to that relationship, and to a general concern about the general promotion of useful disability advocacy, I wrote my first blog post for the Center for Disability Rights, which is where Not Dead Yet (NDY) headquarters in now located. Below is the link and the intro paragraphs to my primer on "Autism Awareness Week."

Autism Awareness Month
Most people in the disability community are aware that April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day. If you’ve noticed that there’s still a heavy amount of autism coverage in the media, it’s because April has now been delegated Autism Awareness Month.

Autism Awareness Month is a good opportunity to talk about some of the problems, particularly the problems that are actually promoted in the name of “autism awareness.” These problems make many people, including myself, dread the month more than I dread the Jerry Lewis/MDA Telethon, which lasts a mere 24 hours.

The disability community has long criticized the Telethon for its emphasis on a “cure” as the most pressing need for people with disabilities. To promote that agenda, people with disabilities are portrayed as objects of pity. Those portrayals act as additional barriers to the respect, inclusion and accommodations for which people with disabilities advocate.
Please read the rest. I'll be back as soon as time, schedule and energy allow. --Stephen

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