Sometimes, in an effort to "do good" , people can actually do great harm.
This is where the difference between AWARENESS and ACCEPTANCE is most apparent.
There was recently a campaign in The UK for MND (commonly referred to as ALS in North America) , raising funds for research and services. One of the stages of MND/ALS is a loss of the ability to speak. So as part of the "Don't Let Me Die Without A Voice" fundraising campaign those with MND/ALS were encouraged to take, and tag #selfiesagainstsilence. People took photos of themselves and high-lit, using non verbal forms of communication, why more funding is needed ( go to mndassociation.org for more info)
Unfortunately, people AWARE of autism decided to "help raise more awareness" by co-opting the campaign. "A Year In The Life of Autism" created #letsilentvoicesbeheard. Seems ok so far. But the assumption became that autistic people could not speak for themselves (even though they've been self-advocating ferociously for years now).
Somewhere along the line someone noticed the outward similarities between the two campaigns.
Thus #silentselfie was born
The gyst of the silent selfie campaign, now removed from facebook after huge outcry, was that autistic people have no voice of their own, so take a pic of your hand over your mouth to show solidarity.
You may ask
Why is that SO WRONG?
First of all, even autistics without verbal communication can, and do ,"talk". They communicate loud and clear. Systemically though, throughout society, in large part due to the HUGE organisations that purport to represent them, autistics are not allowed to be HEARD.
Its not that they don't communicate.
Its that society doesn't LISTEN.
To assume you are bringing awareness of autism by being silent actually perpetuates both the stereotype of autistic people being non-communicative, "in their own world" , and hits a hot button. That common theme throughout their lives of being silenced. Not being heard.
ACCEPTANCE of autism means you not only are AWARE of it, but KNOW that AUTISTIC PEOPLE ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST PEOPLE.
All with wants, needs, and yes, A VOICE
So the #HearUs campaign has co-opted the co-option of the MND/ALS campaign, in order to hopefully negate the hurtful effects of the #silentselfie campaign.
Would you join in?
Take a selfie, add the hashtags #HearUs #autisticvoices and #silentselfie along with a quote of your own that you want HEARD. Then share it everywhere, not just autism friendly (or unfriendly) social media feeds.
The writing is on the wall folks, what autistic people want most is not to be spoken FOR, but to be listened TO!
#silentselfies #autisticvoices #hearus #thewritingsonthewall