Last year, while celebrating Autism Acceptance Month, I discovered the #RedInstead movement. It was a hashtag created by the Autistic community to counteract Autism Speaks’ “Light it Up Blue”. At first I wasn’t aware of its meaning, but after some digging I found that I agreed very strongly with its message of acceptance.
Many of us on the spectrum don’t support Autism Speaks. The organization has spread fear and misinformation, dehumanizing Autistic individuals. They treat Autism as a tragedy, equal in measure to losing one’s child in an accident or an epidemic. In one of their advertisements titled “I am Autism“, children with Autism are said to destroy marriages. In another video, a woman with an Autistic child is interviewed stating that she almost drove off a bridge with her Autistic child. Autism Speaks holds an antagonistic view of the Autistic community, often preaching to parents and placing their mental stability above that of their children.
Most people who are not on the Autism Spectrum are not aware of the harm that Autism Speaks creates in our community. They continue to donate and support the organization whilst those with actual Autism are ignored. Every year as April rolls around, it is a struggle to spread our message to neurotypicals. #RedInstead has gone far, and organizations like ASAN(Autistic Self Advocacy Network) have gotten more support, but Autism Speaks is often what takes up most space in common media. We have had enough of their awareness. What we really need now is acceptance.