Autistic Pride Day is June 18th!
I asked group members from Portland Autistic Self Advocacy Network, PDX ASAN, to share a few personal blurbs on what Autistic Pride Day means. For many of us, this is the first Autistic Pride Day we will celebrate.
"Autistic Pride Day is about celebrating and supporting the efforts of the neurodiversity and Disability Rights Movement. On Autistic Pride Day we connect with other Autistic people and work to build a sense of community and belonging. We ask ourselves questions about advocacy and our community's future:
- How can we work to create a better, more inclusive society for all autistic people?
- How can I take the message of neurodiversity and 'Nothing About Us, Without Us!' to the public?
- How can I work with other Autistic people to build a stronger Autistic community?
- What must we still do to build a community that all autistic people can have access to and feel a sense of connection toward?" -Ari Ne-eman
"To me, Autistic Pride Day is a day that should be acknowledged and celebrated. It also means that there is hope out there that autism could one day finally be accepted by society. It means standing up for who we are. Fora example, in society it would be 'rude' to not accept self-stimulatory behavior as part of both who we are and as a part of our culture. It means taking pride in our own abilities and differences in abilities and accepting our unique traits and characteristics." -Annie
"Autistic Pride Day is a time to celebrate our culture and support our collective resolve to counter and correct the myths that society appends to the autistic experience. Mindful of movements, past and present, that have worked to advance social and political justice of a generally disfavored class of citizens (e.g. gay rights, women's rights, the rights of African Americans). Autistic Pride Day must continue to work toward the rights of autistics to be integrated into society as much as possible and, as primary stakeholders to our outcome, to represent ourselves in the dialogue about our future. As this day is also a "pride day," Autistic Pride Day is a day that people like me--with a neurologically different brain--are able to step back from our worries and be together in a celebratory fashion. Like nations who have important holidays, Autistic Pride Day represents the ultimate holiday the Autistic nation celebrates. Autism and Autistic Pride Day rock!" -Cole K.
"I do not like to get teased about how others think of my autism or my anxiety about things--how I like cats so much and how I buy stuff that has cats on it and do things in repetition. But you know what, I am autistic and I am proud. People who are different deserve the same human rights and respect as anybody else. I suggest for people to strive to understand autism rather than fear it or eradicate it." -Anonymous
"Autistic Pride Day to me means being able to feel comfortable about being alive. To be able to be myself while not being stigmatized by ignorance and backwards attitudes. To be able to live life openly and not have to hide something that is a big part of my life from an unenlightened public. This is my life, and it is unjust to live in a world where I am denied the opportunity to have a completely fulfilling life because I have Asperger's." -Jake Harrison
"If you look up "autistic" on Dictionary.com, you will be presented with the following:
Psychiatry. a pervasive developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.
This is only one example of the widespread misinformation on Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Autism is still mainly assumed to be childhood psychological ailment rather than a lifelong neurological type. We are not un-aging emotionless robots." -Phoebe Loomis
"We are all unique human beings in our own ways, but I like the fact that my brain is wired to be different from others. Nobody is like me. I can paint and write because of my autism. I don't ever want anyone to feel sorry for me because of my autism because it has made me creative and able to create so much beauty in this world." -Julia Rosenstein
"Thinking on the title, Autistic Pride Day, it becomes obvious that there is another autism-related camp that does not support the rights of autistics to be recognized as valid equal people. So we have a day--one day--of autie/aspie pride as respite. I'm but a self-proclaimed anthropologist crouching in the corner, watching and waiting to see what will be." -E. A.
Autistic Pride Day, new on the Autistic/autism forefront, is not necessarily ingrained in our community. I did receive a few less enthusiastic responses from two PDX ASAN members. And these responses are quite valuable, as they point out the diverse reactions Autistic Pride Day my garner from the community:
"To be honest, I have never really *gotten* pride days. For instance, I've participated in Gay Pride Day marches but that was less to show 'my pride' and more to be an un-ignorable mass to the general public a la We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" -Anonymous
"I really don't know what Autistic Pride Day means to me. It has not been long since I was diagnosed, only two years since I have known. I have been to Gay Pride Day parades and events, and though I don't consider myself gay, I did enjoy the spectacle and how marvelous it was for those that attended to feel jubilant about their situation. I am not sure I feel jubilant about being autistic though." -Anonymous
Should we do more to promote Autistic Pride Day in the future? If so, can we expect that one day it will be like Gay Pride Day? How can we make Autistic Pride Day more visible, accessible, and meaningful? Should we bother? What do YOU readers think?
Okay, I know. I got a little deep there. So, I'm just going to come clean and admit that pretty much the whole last paragraph I wrote came from the mind of my brilliant autistic mentor who prefers to remain anonymous. Thank you Anonymous Mentor. You rock!
What is PDX ASAN doing for Autistic Pride Day? We're meeting at Pioneer Courthouse Square, dressed in autie/aspie pride tees (no puzzle pieces!) to join together and pass out fliers to encourage public interest and enlightenment. This gathering will shun pity and negativity and instead promote positivity, acceptance, and awareness.