This past year brought many challenges to autistics and those who love, care and advocate for them. New information from the CDC brought us the estimate that one in 88 children is born on the spectrum. As the media spotlight shone on autistic children, adults on the spectrum struggled to make their voices heard in the continued fight for acceptance, inclusion and support. Some of us in the community were so moved by a young person’s Google search for the phrase “I wish I didn’t have Asperger’s,” that we added our voices to a flash-blog campaign to fill the Internet with messages of love, support and hope. (I posted here.) But, the media tried to drown out our voices as reporters, talk-show hosts and pop psychologists pointed to the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut as (wildly inaccurate) examples of what becomes of autistic adults.
A remarkable group of parents I know:
Jessica Watson at Four Plus and Angel
Tim Tucker at Both Hands and Flashlight
Lexi Magnusson at Mostly. True. Stuff.
Flannery at Living on the Spectrum: the Connor Chronicles
(And other awesomesauce people I am forgetting. Sorry. Kick me. I will add you. :-) )
decided enough was enough. Rather than continuing to lament the media’s apparent bent to sensationalize news at the expense of an oft-misunderstood and marginalized group, they collaborated to start a Facebook campaign called Autism Shines. The campaign expresses, through the pictures and words of those whose lives are touched by autism, the truth of what it’s like to live as or with an autistic or aspie. With every picture, the truth that emerges is that love, joy, empathy and happiness abound.
I was blown away and deeply moved by the outpouring of support that came through my blog post about the Newtown tragedy. Nearly 30,000 people read, shared or commented on that post. If you were one of the folks who found truth in that post, please take a moment to check out and share the Autism Shines campaign. Together, we can put an end to the media’s irresponsible speculation about what autism is and isn’t by spreading the undeniable truth of the Autism Shines images.
Here was my contribution: