April Is Coming

April (Autism Awareness Month) is still most of a month away. But already in groups with autistic adults people are asking about how to survive April. How to self care and get through a month’s barrage of misinformation, people sharing stuff that talks about what a tragedy their life is, and donate more money to a hateful organization that wants to prevent future autistics being born. April is supposed to spread “awareness” but it is hurting people and not just for the month of April but the month before it, too.
Anxiety is a common co-morbidity with autism. And the ones with the loudest voices and the most money are the ones who don’t help but harm the autistic community. Yeah, I joke with the Game of Thrones parody #Apriliscoming, but it’s a very real thing that a lot of people are dealing with apprehension and struggle. This is something most people won’t see. People need to know.
So, what can a neurotypical (NT) person do to make April not horrible, and what can an autistic do to get through it without needing the whole month of May to emotionally recover?

For neurotypicals (non-autistics):

  1. Do not share anything associated with Autism Speaks. Don’t “Light it up Blue,” don’t change your profile picture with the blue filter or puzzle piece frame, and do not give them money.
  2. Do not share pictures or videos of autistic children melting down or having a hard time. This is a violation of privacy and exploitation of children who can not give their consent, as well as being horribly triggering and upsetting for many autistics.
  3. Do try to share things that are labeled as Autism Acceptance rather than Autism Awareness. The Autism Acceptance movement is the neurodiversity positive one.
  4. If you want to donate to a cause that helps actual autistic now rather than to just study their DNA, donate to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

For autistics:

  1. It is okay to totally disengage from social media if that will help you. You are not responsible for anyone but you. There are others who have the spoons to engage and point out the problems. If you don’t have the spoons, don’t engage. Take care of yourself first.
  2. If you have the spoons to spare, ration them. Decided on a number like 2 a day and when you’ve engaged on two problematic posts then let the rest go. I know that’s really hard but better to ration and rest and have the spoons tomorrow than to use up a whole day’s worth of spoons on one day and be wrecked for a week afterwards.
  3. Have a prepared arsenal. Store up positive autism posts and memes in a Pinterest board or bookmarks or something else. Flood your social media with good posts so you’re adding to the ratio of good/bad. I have some plans for posts to share, but I’m not saying this just so you’ll share mine. Share others as well.
  4. If you see someone who you have trusted and loved and they’re sharing something not good, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re ignorant first. Try not to take it personally that they were thoughtless, and try asking with gentleness which is more likely to get a better response.

Did I miss something? Is there something you would add to either of these lists? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it.

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