April is basically the Super Bowl of autism.
And the problem is that harmful organizations like Autism Speaks and Spark and ABA Lobbyists are the Giants with billion-dollar ad budgets.
They are one team in the Super Bowl of autism.
And then there are the Autistic advocates, and we’re the other team in April, the Super Bowl of autism, while the entire world is watching.
So today I’m going to share 5 specific things you can do that help Autistic advocates that are fighting so hard to be seen, to be heard, and to have a chance at the Autism Super Bowl.
Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about… Let me clue you in. :)
April is Autism Acceptance Month, a month where Autistics should feel accepted, welcome, and celebrated.
Instead, we often feel ignored, shut out, and bullied.
And every year parent-advocates and autism allies ask me what they can do or should be doing during April, so let’s take a look at 5 practical things you can do to embrace autism this April.
5 Practical Ways to Embrace Autism This April
If we haven’t met yet, hey friend, I’m Kaylene!
I’m an Autistic adult and parent coach that helps parent-advocates parent their Autistic child with more ease.
So if you’re looking to drop the “autism mom” label and truly accommodate your child, balance your family life, and create real change through advocacy, feel free to hop over to AutisticMama.com/Apply and fill out the form to access an advanced private training!
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#1 Do Not Light It Up Blue
The first one is very, very simple, but so, so important, and that is: do not light anything up blue.
- Don’t light up your porch blue.
- Don’t light up your house blue.
- Don’t light up your child blue.
I don’t even know what that means… Like, I don’t know how you would like to child up blue. But if you were going to—please don’t do that.
Point is, we’re just not going to do that. We’re not lighting anything up blue while we’re embracing autism this April.
Now let’s talk about why we aren’t participating in “Light It Up Blue”.
Light It Up Blue, if you’ve never heard of it, is a campaign that happens on April 2, which is World Autism day.
And this campaign has really ugly roots, connected a lot with Autism Speaks, which we’re going to talk about in point two.
(Related: What to Do Instead of Light It Up Blue on World Autism Day)
In addition to being tied with a legitimate hate group, Light It Up Blue also is based on really sexist beliefs about autism.
So for a long time, autism was seen as a boy’s disorder, which is obviously not accurate or not true in any way, shape, or form.
But the belief that autism was (or is) a boy’s disorder is incredibly harmful to women, girls, and those who were assigned female at birth.
(Note: trans women or women just to be clear.)
Because it is so much harder for women, girls, and those who were assigned female at birth to get an autism diagnosis than it is for boys because the diagnostic criteria was written for primarily young white boys.
So all of what the doctors and professionals know about autism is geared toward what is typically seen in young white boys.
Now, I want to be clear, I keep saying young white boys, this issue is not only one of gender, and intersectionality is a thing, for sure.
Women of color have an even harder time than white women getting a diagnosis.
And Black boys are more likely to be seen as troublemakers or seen as having oppositional defiance disorder instead of autism because of societal racist beliefs which could inspire a blog post all on it’s own.
My point is, the reason that light it up blue exists, in general, is because autism was believed to be a boys disorder. But that’s bullshit.
Women can be autistic. Non-binary people can be autistic.
Autism is not gendered.
So there is absolutely no reason to light it up blue when we’re embracing autism this April.
#2 Do Not Support Autism Speaks
The second way to practically embrace autism this April is by not supporting Autism Speaks or any Autism Speaks backed projects, fundraisers, or events.
Now, if you’ve never heard of Autism Speaks before, they are a typically well-known autism organization, or charity and they tend to be the go-to for a lot of professional organizations,
But they are essentially a hate group and overwhelmingly autistics are against Autism Speaks.
Not only do they not have autistic representation on their board or in their organization, but they actively promote policies and projects that harm Autistics in general.
- They’ve supported prenatal testing to prevent Autistic babies from being born
- They pour money into ABA therapy which causes Autistic trauma
- They create ads blaming autism for ruining marriages and highlighting a mother who contemplated murder/suicide (and says this on camera in earshot of the child she thought about murdering)
And one of the worst things?
They actively support electroshock therapy for Autistics—and not like back in the day when many many Autistics were institutionalized, which was horrific, but also very common…
I’m talking like, four years ago, they were actively supporting electric shock therapy on autistic children.
Now, Autism Speaks is going through a rebrand and trying really hard to appear to be more neurodiversity-minded and more autistic-friendly.
But at this point, after all of the harm they’ve caused, it’s much too little too late.
So we do not support Autism Speaks ever, but especially not in April!
#3 Support Autistic-Led Movements
The third way to embrace autism this April is to support Autistic-led movements.
Two examples of Autistic-led movements that you can support are Light It Up Red and Light it Up Gold which are in direct contrast to light it up blue.
I’ve seen these becoming really common in schools that used to light it up blue, and are now starting to swap for the light it up red movement.
Then the one that I absolutely love the thought process behind, and honestly I just think it’s really funny, is tone it down taupe.
The thought process is essentially why are we lighting all these things up when a lot of autistics are sensory sensitive? Can’t we just tone it down a little bit?
So those are some Autistic-led movements that kind of go against the like light it up blue movement. So again, those were:
- Light it Up Red
- Light It Up Gold
- Tone It Down Taupe
Then aside from direct contrasts to Light It Up Blue, you can also just look for autistic-led movements through Autistic-led organizations.
Two examples of Autistic-led organizations are the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (AWN).
So whether you support an alternative to Light it Up Blue or an ongoing project from an Autistic-Led organization, supporting Autistic-led movements is the third way to embrace autism this April.
#4 Support Autistic Advocates
Now the fourth way to embrace autism this April is to support Autistic advocates.
If you’re here reading this post, that is because you actively follow autistic advocates, right? I’m one of them.
And I am assuming if you follow me, you probably follow several autistic advocates. I am not a unicorn, and I don’t exist in a vacuum.
I am one of many, many incredible talented autistic advocates that share their energy, their spoons, their wisdom, and their brilliance.
And I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Every single April, your favorite Autistic advocates are so low on spoons.
The insults that got hurled at public advocates are not fun. It’s really not.
I’ve been told that I shouldn’t exist. That I’m brain damaged. That my children should be taken away from me, and I shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce.
There have been so many times that I have almost quit writing, coaching, advocating, and doing everything that I do.
And the other advocates that are out here in these Facebook waters, they’re dealing with hard stuff too.
So if there is one thing off of this list you do—I mean, the do nots, they’re so easy, don’t light it up blue or support Autism Speaks but also—let it be that you support autistic advocates this month.
Because like it’s rough out here, friends.
And it makes more of a difference than then you know when you support autistic advocates that are pouring their heart and their spoons and their energy and their wisdom into their advocacy work.
Here are a few simple ways you can support your favorite Autistic advocates:
- Comment to tell them they’ve changed your perspective
- Like their posts to boost them in the algorithm
- Share their work with others you know
- Let them know that they made a difference in your life
- Recommend them to your friends raising Autistic kids
These small things don’t cost a thing, but they will make a huge difference for the Autistic advocates you follow who are doing their best to show up and serve during Autism Acceptance Month (and all year!).
Now if you want to support autistic advocates at another level, you can buy their stuff!
Buy the stickers that they sell. Buy the t-shirts they design. Read their blog that has ads that are super annoying on it.
(We know that they’re annoying when they annoy us too!)
Book the call with them, join their coaching program, or sign up for their Patreon if you want to support them and have the financial means to do so.
I want to be clear, if you don’t have the finances to support your favorite Autistic advocates financially, that’s totally fine.
But support them in whatever way you like have the energy, spoons, and capacity to do because it will mean the world to them.
And just like the autistic led movements, I want to shout out a couple of Autistic advocates you can support this month:
- Fidgets and Fries: A Black Autistic woman raising Black Autistic boys and an incredibly bold advocate!
- Kristy Forbes: An Autistic woman with a PDA profile, PDA expert, and hilarious human being!
- Autistic Typing: An Indigenous Autistic mom of Autistic children and incredible advocate!
#5 Attend Embracing Autism Live
Okay, the fifth way we can practically embrace autism this April is to come to Embracing Autism Live, which is the brand new one-day event that I am hosting April 20th!
Since announcing Embracing Autism Live, I’ve gotten tons of questions about the event… What we’ll be teaching, what makes it different, and what the event will look like,
So I want to answer some of those questions here!
Embracing Autism Live is going to be a one-day virtual event designed to help you create a custom plan to parent your Autistic child with ease.
And the one-day event is made up of four live workshops:
- The Embracing Autism Evolution
- Tell All Q&A: Parent-Advocate Panel
- Your Custom 90 Day Action Plan
- Embracing Autism Mindset & Strategy
Now I know that coming to four live workshops in one day might be downright impossible, if not really difficult, so your ticket also includes six days of replay access.
And throughout Embracing Autism Live, we’re going to be taking a look at what I am seeing as the Embracing Autism Evolution.
And basically, it is what I see is this big shift that’s happening in both the parenting world and the autism world, and it’s something I’ve been observing in my conversations with my parent advocates.
Parents are done with the one size fits all, do these exact things all the time, and follow these magic steps and if they don’t work it’s because you’re a failure or your kid is broken.
Real talk: I got really tired of reading parenting books that made ME feel guilty.
I figured that if I am a parent coach—like I literally do this for a living—and I feel guilty reading the parenting books… There is something very very wrong here.
So Embracing Autism Live is really about embracing the unique parenting strategies that work for your unique kids, situation, culture, habits, and more.
That’s why it’s a custom, unique plan and not the same one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter solution that I’ve seen parent coaches, experts, and white guys with PhDs trying to force on everybody.
It’s truly going to be the premier virtual event for parents of Autistic children, and you can click here to get your Early Bird ticket for just $19.
When we talk about embracing autism, and we talk about April and Autism Acceptance Month, a lot of people ask okay, but what do I actually do?
So just to quickly recap the five things that we can do to practically Embrace autism this April:
- Number One: Do Not Light It Up Blue
- Number Two: Do Not Support Autism Speaks
- Number Three: Support Autistic-Led Movements
- Number Four Support Autistic Advocates
- Number Five: Attend Embracing Autism Live.
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Thank you 💕