So, this week is autism awareness week but awareness of what?
That it’s fine to be autistic? That we should celebrate neurodiversity?
There is a new hashtag this week #knowyournormal . But is it normal to smear your own faeces on the wall as one of my sons did for years? Is it normal to bite or injure yourself deliberately in rage? Is it normal not to be able to communicate even your basic needs?
It is not fine at all to have autism for many children and adults, those adults that you never see because they are hidden away in residential settings being cared for twenty four hours a day. Those children who are awake half the night, wrecking havoc in their own homes.
I did a phone in on Radio 5 last year and almost unanimously everyone who listened was shocked at one caller talking about his young son who smeared faeces, tore his clothes off, threw his mattress out of the window and whose parents were at their wit’s end with exhaustion and fear for what would become of him.
How can we celebrate this? We can’t and we shouldn’t.
We should be using this week to raise awareness of all those young children who have #no voice of their own, literally ‘no voice’ as they are non verbal. We as parents and carers need to shout out on their behalf.
It’s fine for adults with high functioning autism to want acceptance for who they are, their autism isn’t excluding them from life. They can shout out for themselves and are using this week to do so.
The week should also be for awareness that autism can be immeasurably hard for those families and those children severely affected by it. They are the ones who need acknowledgement and vital help to learn to communicate and to live in an often hostile world.
We need to show the other side of autism, the side that people don’t want to think about. #no voice.
Light it up blue for Autism