June 18 is Autistic Pride Day, a day dedicated to the autistic community for them to share their pride of being on the spectrum. It was started in 2005, and is intended to be instrumented by people who are actually on the spectrum. It seeks to amplify the voices that actually represent the community in a society that often tries to represent them for them. To participate and show support includes a lot of listening, understanding and acceptance rather than blindly proliferating messages that drown out their voices.
As such, a key aspect of the movement is to dispel misleading stereotypes that create unnecessary stigma around autistic people, and the primary aim is to generate not just awareness, but also acceptance, respect, inclusion and support for people with autism. Succumbing the detrimental impacts of misinformation includes collaborative efforts to learn more, to listen to and spread the right sources from the right people, and to also provide support and platforms to true experts of autism — who are people on the spectrum.
We are not specialists of the spectrum, and we want to do our part to show support respectfully. We have been following the voices of the autism community and on this special day of theirs, we wanted to share some of the notes we have taken from the initiatives by the community of the people on the spectrum. The 3 key points we are sharing are what have been reiterated by the community repeatedly and we believe them to be fundamental in helping us better understand the spectrum, and to help build more accepting attitudes and actions for them. We have also linked the sources we have perused to facilitate your further reading of their initiatives directly.
Some have also found that looking at autism as a difference helps in adjusting their perspective. What is important is that we stop treating it as an impediment that diminishes an individual's value or potential.
We often look for checklists subconsciously because it streamlines our understanding of the unfamiliar. However, this can be hurtful to the autistic community. The experiences of each person with autism are unique. Additionally, the term 'spectrum' indicates that it is an array of various factors that do not always coincide.
The movement for the autism community is a deeply diverse and intricate one, involving a myriad of stories that are each unique to themselves, with struggles that do not always appear parallel or within our expectations. This is why it is important for us to spend more time listening and learning before we speak up. We too are still learning and learning to learn. We hope that this article encourages you to take on a different perspective towards supporting the autism community, and to help amplify their voices by listening to them first.
We urge you to peruse the resources we have found useful ourselves and have linked below to gain a broader and deeper understanding of the autism spectrum.
- Instagram #actuallyautistic