My city, like many others around the country, hosts a huge autism walk each year. For which organization? You already know; the biggest one. Yep, that one.
In 2011, before I knew better, I wanted to show my support for the autism community. So I walked. With my kids. And as we walked, we passed signs that compared autism, cancer, and pediatric AIDS. We passed signs that talked about the ginormous cost of caring for an individual with an autism diagnosis. Etc. etc. I was taken aback. I even snapped pics of the signs (don't worry, I'm not posting them). I've never gone to another one of *those* walks again.
But this year, I learned of another (newer) autism walk, typically held annually in May. One that wishes to acknowledge challenges while also celebrating strengths. One that doesn't portray people whose neurology is different as broken and pitiful. And that walk is happening only three hours from my city. I'm going, along with a grassroots local autism group that supports autism acceptance. The organization isn't perfect, but a lot of their principles resonate deeply with me, and they seem open to grow and change.
I KNOW I just finished the AIDS Walk, and kept posting about it. I tend to perseverate on my passions, and HIV awareness is one of them. Autism acceptance is another. So, sorry in advance that you're going to see more of the same soon, oops.
I'm not going to accept that the *other* walk has to be the "only game in town." I have to do what I can to encourage people in my area to know that there is an alternative. There is another way of seeing things, and there are groups that are starting to respond with acceptance rather than with pity (or worse). I'm going to stand on my little soapbox in my little corner of the world, and do what I can, when I can, in my way.
The walk I'm going to? It's through the Golden Hat Foundation. This is a link to a recent PSA they released. It is a far cry from "Sound the Alarm" and "Autism Every Day." Check out their "Aut2Change Perceptions;" I hope you enjoy.