Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Autism Acceptance Month 2016 (Year 6)

Copied and pasted from my Facebook account:

March 27

Hello all,

This April and April 2nd specifically is, for members of the Autistic Culture such as myself, Autism Acceptance Month and Day respectively. Note I say ACCEPTANCE, as opposed to AWARENESS, which are very different, and which is the theme of April and April 2nd for those who believe in the medical model of autism, such as Autism Speaks, the National Autism Association, and the Autism Research Institute. AWARENESS, symbolized with puzzle pieces and blue clothes and lights, generally focuses on autism as a medical disaster causing divorces and taking children from their family, and allows Autism Speaks executives to continue making their six-figure salaries while paying less than 5% of their organizations to any meaningful supports for autistics and their families. The blue lights, alluding to AS's puzzle piece symbol, comes from this fastly discredited notion that there are four autistic boys for every autistic girl, while autistics such as myself reject the puzzle piece as we are not broken pictures to be reassembled, and we, and our diversity, fit together naturally, with no beginning and no end, like the Autistic rainbow infinity piece. ACCEPTANCE, which we launched to take back April, embraces the social model of autism, being a difference to be respected as with homosexuality or any other difference, not caused by vaccines, genetic deformities, bad parents, bacon, tanning beds, and so on, expressed through links, photos, art, poetry, blogs, and events that portray my condition POSITIVELY-certain not as always peachy, as, like with every way of living, life with autism isn't perfect and has its problems, but this should not be the focus of how we view this segment of our humanity. I shall be doing this certainly, but I have one final "piece" to mention. THIS MONTH is celebrated by wearing and lighting GOLD, RED, TAUPE, and ORANGE, for the chemical symbol for gold (AU), the first two letters of the word "Autistic"; red, a heart, to symbolize autism, rather than a puzzle piece; taupe, the Tree of Neurodiversity (various mental wiring, including autism and neurotypicality, being valid); orange, the spark from the Celebrate Autism Foundation. Their is also green from the coil-and-jump logo for Great Britain's Autscape and purple for royal purple (indicating royalness) from Scotland's Autistic Rights Group Highlands, and the rainbow, but, not blue alone. Note, this is different from awareness, for its not just what we see, but the lens (or lack of) with which we are to see them. I have said before, we have enough awareness, but awareness is not enough. We need acceptance, and rather than donating to Autism Speaks, realize their our groups that will allow autistics their socially crucial need of acceptance, such as the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education, the Autistic Union, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, the Autism Women's Network, and so on. I realize many may have a lot to learn, and I have a lot not to judge, but note this, throughout the entire month of April, I will not only be wearing gold, red, taupe, and orange (and green and purple), but I will be wearing no blue (except for my rainbow Autism Acceptance Day shirt, which is different, and make sure to put a photo of it on Facebook every day, so you can be sure of my promise. I did this last April from the 5th (when I got the idea) to the 31st, with clothes from the Salvation Army store in Warrensburg, a bottle cap necklace, glow bracelets covered in Cheetos bag strips, and handwoven friendship bracelets. And the results were amazing. All-in-all these posts got at least sixty likes altogether, over half a dozen from the UCM community, and more if you counted the faculty and staff and alumni. This time I shall do it again, all thirty-one days, somehow fitting it all in with school, work, my social life, and working on my novels every day as part of my New Year's resolution. I do not ask that anyone try this, but know that to me, blue does not signal an immediate ally to my solutions, and while everyone can learn more in cultural competence, I will not let my world go unaware of my message when I have the words, actions, and clothes to embody it. So if you see me and you notice I am not wearing blue, I hope this will explain why. ‪#‎AutismAcceptanceDay6

March 28

Today, I went to Ten Thousand Villages, and found this red leather bracelet made from scraps of leather from Columbia's textile industry, which says, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi. I got it because it is red, in honor of 2016's Autism Acceptance Month in three days, and for its quote, which meant a lot to me as an autistic activist at UCM and elsewhere. ‪#‎AutismAcceptanceDay2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

World Down Syndrome Day Year 10

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a day that reminds me ever more of how grateful I am for my good friend, Tyler Nelson Weekly. I remember him being my roommate in our second year at UCM's THRIVE program, going with him to see all the Hobbit movies, watching his school dance performances, talking to him on the phone, having him spend nights at my home where we watched The Power Rangers, watching the Disney Channel of my own accord for a while after a year of living with him, coming with him to the Down Syndrome Guild of Kansas City's yearly Down syndrome dance, having him by me during my graduation from the University of Central Missouri, taking him for rides the first night I got my new car, going to Royal's game with him and our friend Jack, coming with him to Starlight Performances-where he is an usher captain-and the time he came with me to Minsky's on my twenty-sixth birthday and took a diagonally slanted picture of my mom and me. He constantly supports every dream I have and is just so eye-opening to the lives people with Down syndrome lead. He always wants to help me. I constantly love how he is funny, kind, intuitive, loyal, and so many other things that I am lucky that he is. I remember every time when I have looked for the right woman, and got to know one out there, Tyler would say, "Did you tell her about me?" and I said, "No, Tyler, but don't worry. I would be remiss if the girl I dated did not know about you." I once told my granddad, "Any woman who does not accept Tyler exactly as he is, is no girlfriend of mine."
"On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all."
-United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon