Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day. Usually I would find some way to mark the day, perhaps by engaging in online awareness raising or encouraging work or school to raise awareness. This year felt different. Perhaps because since my own diagnosis it feels more personal. They’re talking about me and people like me and it feels oddly intrusive. I want people to be more aware and more accepting of diversity in all its forms, but being the subject of an awareness raising campaign makes me feel even more separate. I understand that we need the general public to know more and know better about autism, but they also need to know more and know better about a multitude of other disabilities, differences and inequalities. We need people to be respectful and understanding of all the wonderful and more challenging aspects of human life.
One day or one week is not enough. Schools, workplaces, medical and care providers, businesses, family, friends, strangers – all people and all services need to recognise and support the diverse nature of human life every day. There are people facing real struggles every day of every week, to access education, health and care provision. If you’ve got family members, friends, pupils, employees, customers or service-users the chances are some of them are struggling, some might be autistic, most won’t be. But if they’re struggling please do more than press ‘share’ and ‘like’ buttons on social media. Please do something real and meaningful. And if they are autistic and you don’t know what you can do to help, just ask, we like direct!
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