Are We Doing Autism Awareness All Wrong?

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Yesterday was Light It Up Blue day for Autism Awareness, but today in Forbes, science, health and parenting columnist Emily Willingham writes that we should forget about the gesture. One, she says it supports Autism Speaks which Willingham has claimed in the past stigmatizing and demonizes autistic people.

Second, beyond Willingham’s personal and controversial thoughts on this matter, she has a point about awareness campaigns in general that aim to accomplish the basic minimum: Awareness but nothing more. She writes:


In the case of autism, the exhortation of the day, courtesy of Autism Speaks, will be to “light it up blue,” and powers that be around the globe will cause world-famous landmarks to do just that. Because nothing says, “I really care about autistic people,” like going to the trouble to install blue lights on tall buildings and then flipping them on for a few hours. Presumably, the world will then be led to wonder, “Why is the Leaning Tower of Pisa blue today?” and eagerly turn to the Internet for answers, learning for the first time that a condition called “autism” exists. Awareness achievement unlocked. All done.

But you can do some real work that can make a real difference for autistic people (read here on using “autistic”), something that goes beyond sartorial expression, social media tricks or light bulb purchases….

..you will encounter many a call for “autism awareness.” Have you heard about autism yet? OK. So you’re aware. Step one is low, and you’ve mastered it. Now for the steeper climb. For autistic people, awareness is not the goal at this point–acceptance is.

We can see her point.

A lot of adults without children with Autism do not really understand it. A recent survey of parents reveal that 92% of parents without learning disabilities harbor severe misconceptions. It’s unfortunate given the fact that 20% of Americans have a learning disability, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

The survey of 1,000 parents conducted in March 2017 compared the responses of parents of children with and without difficulties. The study was released by Brain Balance Achievement Centers,a holistic, non-medical, drug-free approach to addressing behavioral, social, or learning difficulties

Asked what they think causes these difficulties, 46% of parents of children with difficulties say nature is the root cause of the difficulties while 24% think their child’s difficulties are hereditary, and another 22% think they arise from developmental delays. Only 7% say they’re caused by bad parenting.

Compare this to what parents of children without difficulties think:45% think that parents are to blame for difficulties and  27% of parents whose children don’t have learning difficulties think they’re caused by a lack of discipline, while 18% think they come from bad parenting. (In reality, learning, social, and behavioral difficulties can have many sources, including neurologically based processing problems.)

Parents who are curious about learning, social, and behavioral difficulties, or who think their child might have one, can take this online assessment:  After years of helping children with behavioral and social challenges, the experts at Brain Balance have developed a cutting-edge (and drug-free) program combining sensory motor stimulation, academic stimulation, and nutrition to correct brain imbalance and improve achievement.

Given that 7% of children with difficulties are bullied at school, it leaves one to wonder if kids are getting those misconceptions from their parents at home.

Correcting wrong perceptions is essential as is moving past basic awareness and more towards acceptance.

Check out the rest of Willingham’s piece HERE! 

World Autism Awareness Day: 5 Ways you Can “Light it Up Blue” to show support

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and it has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies.
Throughout its history, the United Nations family has promoted the rights and well-being of the disabled, including children with developmental disabilities. In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, reaffirming the fundamental principle of universal human rights for all.
The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.
“This international attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures,”  UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon said in a message commemorating Autism Day 2013. “Now is the time to work for a more inclusive society, highlight the talents of affected people and ensure opportunities for them to realize their potential. “
Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue.
It’s easy and fun to Light It Up Blue! Register your Light It Up Blue events today. Whether you’re joining as an individual, or the manager of a building, store, school, cultural institution, restaurant, or media entity, you can pledge to Light It Up Blue and share your events.
In 2012, more than 3000 iconic buildings and landmarks in over 50 countries on six continents turned their lights blue in commemoration of World Autism Awareness
How can I Light It Up Blue?
It’s easy for individuals and families, buildings, landmarks, retail locations, schools, universities and restaurants to Light It Up Blue! Simply change your 
light bulbs from white to blue!

  1. On April 2, wear blue clothing and ask friends, co-workers and schools to wear blue too. Take  group photo and upload it to the gallery at www.LightItUpBlue.org.
  2. Light your home blue by purchasing blue light bulbs from Home Depot and replace your outdoor lighting with these blue bulbs.
  3. Tweet about Light It Up Blue 
  4. Change your Facebook profile photo to the Light It Up Blue logo on April 2.
  5. Download the Light It Up Blue App: HERE post signature

Wear blue today for World Autism Awareness Day

Today, April 2, wear blue in support of  World Autism Awareness Day.
With the arrival of April and Autism Awareness Month, people around the world are showing support for those affected by the developmental brain disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for complex disorders that affect the development of the brain. The disorders typically manifest between the ages of 2-years-old and 3-years-old, according to Autism Speaks.org. The disorders can be characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulty with social interaction, difficulty with both verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Those with autism may suffer from intellectual disability and difficulty with motor coordination, in addition to attention and physical health issues, according to Autism Speaks.
Cases of autism increased a staggering 600 percent over the last two decades, and now affects one in 88 children, including one in 54 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
An estimated one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, which makes it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined, according to Autism Speaks. The group also estimates that 1.5 million people in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism, as government statistics indicate the prevalence rate of autism is increasing by 10 to 17 percent annually. About 80 percent of those living with autism are estimated to be under the age of 21-years-old.
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