Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Acceptance Must Not Become a Buzzword

ActingNT (Daniel Au Valencia) writes Acceptance Must Not Become a Buzzword

The discourse surrounding autism is full of meaningless buzzwords: Awareness, cure, treatment, high-functioning, optimal outcome, and many more; even the factual-sounding phrase "evidence-based" cannot be taken as an indication that there really is evidence. Many of these words did mean something once upon a time, but since then have been distorted by widespread overuse and misuse.

Language has power, and replacing meaningless buzzwords with things that aremeaningful is an important part of pro-Autistic activism: Rather than appealing to a vaguely defined "functioning" level, we describe what people's specific support needs are. Rather than trying to nonsensically "treat" or "cure" something that isn't a disease, we attempt to change the social and civil environments to ones that are more accommodating.
You might expect that a campaign to promote "awareness" of autism would be educating people about what autism is, highlighting some Autistic role models, and explaining how to best support the Autistic people in your life. In practice, "autism awareness" campaigns don't seem to promote any message other than autism is a thing that exists. If that's all we're meant to be aware of, then frankly, I think we're at peak awareness. When I hear people talk about "raising" awareness further, I imagine some Amish family in the mountains, living off a tofu farm, that hasn't heard the word autism yet.

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