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I Need Acceptance, Not Awareness

by Chloe Gilholy 10 months ago in humanity

Coming to terms with Autism

I Need Acceptance, Not Awareness
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

This month is autism awareness month where people light up blue hearts for awareness. As an autistic person myself, I feel we don’t need awareness, we need acceptance. I still see people on social media use the term autistic as a way to insult somebody. We get classed as aliens by society and many of the people I love who are on the spectrum themselves have experienced years of bullying and discrimination. What’s worse is that the big organisations that claim to help us are actually the ones doing the most damage.

This post from the Autistic Mama blog is solid proof to why I refuse to support Autism Speaks for their controversial trailer with the child is horrific and offensive to say the least. It feels more like a trailer to a horror movie than anything else. I hate how they describe autism as something that needs to be eliminated. They portray us as people who are demented. They also cash in on money raised instead of putting it to good use.

I have not watched Sia’s film, Music nor do I intend to. It’s a film I mean red in a list of films that I refuse to watch. The reviews and trailers are enough for me to loath what it’s done such as describing physical restraint as ‘crushing somebody with my love’. I’ve worked in supported living households for adults with learning disabilities which included others on the spectrum, and not once did we restrain people. I’ve been working in the health and social care sector for nearly ten years and we’ve never been taught to restrain people, and if we did, it’s only to be used as a last resort. I’ve never been in a situation where I felt I needed to be restrain somebody or be restrained myself.

Hollywood attempts to represent us only brings more discrimination. We are shown to be only interested in maths and have as much conversational skills as a goldfish. But we are all different, but we get represented by the same out-dated tropes. There are some that would rather have a child riddled with diseases than have a child with autism. Autistic people are sometimes seen as a challenge, a person hard to approach and one to avoid.

They don’t focus on the person with autism. They make out carers and relatives of people with autism to be victims and their loved one has a degrading disease that is slowly killing us. How do you think that makes us feel? Autism is not a disease. I am not diseased. I don’t want to be told I’m vulnerable, deluded and can’t see what’s right and wrong just because I disagree with you. I am allowed to make mistakes as much as any body else.

All of this makes me ashamed to admit that I am autistic. Like I can’t be true to myself. Even though I know people who are Autistic. My godson is autistic. My partner is autistic and a lot of my friends are also autistic and proud of it. Being in a little group of people on the spectrum doesn’t make me feel ashamed anymore. They already had a hunch that I was autistic anyway.

Everybody has different goals in life. Some people want to get married. Some wants kids and some don’t. Others want to be rich and rule the world. And then there are others who just want to be comfortable and happy. The ultimate goal for a lot of people like me is to just be accepted and have genuine relationships. We don’t want to be labeled under toxic and dangerous tropes that are simply not us. We are not something to be experimented on to be exploited for profit.


Chloe Gilholy

Healthcare worker from Oxfordshire. Author of ten books including Drinking Poetry and Game of Mass Destruction. Travelled to over 20 countries.

Read next: The Fight of My Life

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