A moment of your time on Autism Awareness? Many autistics, and I myself have been and still find myself in this situation, spend every hour of every day-at work, at school, at home, even with our families-trying to pretend we're "normal." We must concentrate every ounce of effort we have not put into the jobs, families, and work we already struggle in due to lack of accomodations, to avoid doing anything that might sell us out as autistic. That means flapping our arms, being blunt, avoiding eye contact, and even mentioning about a novel we read last night for fear it show our "special interests." In short, we spend all our remaining energy trying to blend in with the crowd, and then people come along-celebrities, high management autism organizations, parents, politicians, frat boys and girls all meaning to do the right thing-and tell people to be aware of US. And we're told constantly and constantly by the same people that if we don't learn to look neurotypical-using eye contact, avoiding stimming, etc.,-we'll never get a job, go to school, get married, have children, or lead a fulfilling life. We strive harder then ever to look like we're "normal" because the puzzle piece symbols tell us there's a missing piece to be found of us before we can belong. Anywhere. And so autism is presumed by the do-gooders to be some troublesome child who's a constant wreck because that's what gets the numbers up-people afraid their career, their home lives, and their marriages will be ruined because of a child we've already been taught we were, and act so hard not to be. And since we, or none of us fit this image, we may as well be presumed to be neurotypical, or basically almost so because we've had ABA, or are high-functioning, or whatever, just so do-gooders can let the people know those they now fear aren't doing their behaviors to be rude. But God forbid that us "high-functioning" people or ABA graduates should ever stim, avoid eye contact, or have their own interests. We are considered "too evolved" to do these things, not because we do them to help us process sensory stimuli which are brains are already hard-wired to receive differently. And we by no means are capable of speaking for the "low-functioning" community, let alone our own selves. We're afraid to get help, many of us just to stop painkillers the next day, so we can live our lives healthily and comfortable, while still expressinng our own identity. So I ask you, will you, next time you think you're going to do us right as victims and not humans, think of reaching one individual at a time, to be empowered to be his or her own self, and forget this idea that the most attention-getting messages or people are the ones who spread the most progressive attitude towards the masses, and think about what you want for us, not FROM US. We commonly are too complacent or uncritical to examine the conventional wisdom of our approaches to problems. We think if we just let the river flow our boat downstream, not noticing where it's going, we will arrive in the safest place, and all will be better for everyone. Well if you down row upstream, honey, and watch where you're going, the river might well lead you to a waterfall that you'll bring us all down with you.