Monday, November 1, 2010

My Autism Shout Out

Does it count as communication shutdown if you do it by mistake?

Today is (was?), depending on how you look at it, either Communication Shutdown Day or Autistics Speaking Day or a number of other things. Basically, folks in and near the autism community are using social media in different ways to raise awareness of autism and, in some cases, raise money.

I lean toward the speaking up side of this day, but haven't had a chance to sit down and write yet. Somehow though, I always manage to tweet.

Mostly what I hope for from today is that some people who hadn't thought about autism much before learn a little bit about what it's like to have or care for someone with autism, whether they get that information from an individual with autism or the parent of a child with autism—or, frankly, anyone else who cares.

There are some great posts that much more eloquently speak about this than I have here. Both Sunday of Adventures in Extreme Parenthood and Liz Ditz of I Speak of Dreams have compiled lists of some of these posts along with their own commentary.

I also wrote about this yesterday in my Washington Times Communities column, Autism Unexpected, in which I re-posted a wonderful essay Sunday wrote last month about this very thing.

I want to also thank Susan/WhyMommy, who is someone who makes a point to learn and care about our kids with autism. It can be intimidating to throw your hat into this contentious autism community sometimes, especially if you don't have "I have-a-kid/am-a-person with autism" to back you up. (Although I'm not sure Susan is intimidated by a lot.) Thanks to her for giving the community a shout out today.

I will also point you to The Autism Path, which is probably one of my favorite pieces that I've written about autism.

I also ask that next time you see a child having an outburst in a store, that you withhold judgment and maybe ask if you can help, but also understand that "no thank you" means you should walk away. I ask that you take the time to look beyond an adult's eccentricities to see that there is a cool person underneath. I ask you to know that if you're thinking about not inviting the autistic kid to a birthday party because you think he'll make it harder, invite him anyway and talk to the parent about how to make it work. I ask you to understand that even if someone can't speak out loud, that doesn't mean that he or she isn't trying to communicate.

And that's my shout out.

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