Its another April and this month, you will be given a lot of information about Autism. The information you will receive will also be coming at you from many directions and view points. There will be arguments for/against vaccinations with Autism at the epicenter. Arguments will be made on whether autism is genetic or environmental. And you will be given a host of articles regarding famous people in the past and present that are or may be on the Autism spectrum. Also, many studies will be released this month for maximum exposure. Today I am going to discuss one of the newer arguments that will be happening this month: Awareness or Acceptance.
Today kicks off the 2nd annual #RoyalBlueForAutismAwarenss social media campaign hosted by the Mocha Autism Network. The goal of the campaign is simple:
So why is "Awareness" given priority in this campaign over "Acceptance" when both are important? It's simple and complicated at the same time. Many people in underrepresented communities haven't Gotten to the Awareness part yet.
According to the CDC, 1 in 68 people are on the Autism Spectrum. According to independent studies, Black and Latino children are more than likely to be diagnosed as many as 2-3 years later than white children and girls across all ethnicities are generally diagnosed even later. There are many reasons for this. Underrepresented communities have a general distrust o the Special Education Systems and won't get assessments as often as communities that have not been previously been historically been mistreated by the American education system. There also exists an information gap in communities regarding what autism is and what traits to look for.
We are less than 2 years from comedian DL Hughley calling his son on the spectrum "retarded" and less than a week from comedian Steve Harvey giving a lackluster apology for a comedic sketch on his radio show. Calling people "slow" is till a a typical insult used by children and adults. Being called autistic is still used as a joke on TV and in movies without a blink of an eye. So at this point, "Awareness" is where this particular campaign begins due to the audience we serve.
Then there is the lack of awareness regarding education to Communities of Color related to Special Needs. Not only were there not many communities speaking about Autism, most national organizations did not discuss talking about Autism to Communities of Color. The lack of "awareness" of people of color is apparent in reviewing the lack of diversity in organization boards, campaigns and outreach goals.
Does that mean that we don't understand the importance of "Autism Acceptance?" Not at all.
Because there are few national campaigns such as this one, where the emphasis is on #AutisticFamiliesofColor, the Mocha Autism Network decided to start from the very beginning, to help our communities learn about Autism and its traits, accept them in our community and gain the resources to assist our communities wholistically. And we're getting there. when this organization was conceived in late 2013, there weren't very many talks of diversity in Autism Awareness.
Thanks to Social Media and great groups and Advocates of Color on the Autism Spectrum, we are proud to be teaching inclusion in this important area. We also thank you for participating in the #RoyalBlueForAutismAwareness Campaign. You will help us create the understanding we need to successfully reach so many.
You are truly appreciated.
Monika Brooks, Director
Mocha Autism Network