I know we're over halfway through April, but it's also silly to assume April is the only time these things need to be said.
So here is my "Autism Awareness" wish list -- things I wish got more attention during the complicated, often off-the-mark, month of April.
1) Call it "Autism Acceptance" Day/Week/Month instead.
2) Stop talking about causes.
3) Stop talking about cures.
4) Stop talking about gluten free diets.
5) Stop talking about vaccines.
6) Stop saying "Aren't we all a little on the spectrum" (we're not).
7) Stop speaking as if autistic people can't hear you (they can).
8) Be aware that not everyone likes the puzzle piece (or lighting it up blue).
9) Stop insisting on person-first language when many autistic people (see what I did there?) don't prefer it.
10) Read a blog post and/or interview by someone who has autism.
I understand that a list comprised of things you shouldn't do can come off as negative, and that is not my intent. So here are some things you should do:
1) Be patient with autistic people.
2) Acknowledge and accept that autistic people are DIFFERENT, and that's not a flaw.
3) Let them be themselves. There is no benefit to training them to appear normal.
4) Say something positive when you find out someone is autistic or a person has an autistic family member.
5) Read a blog post and/or interview by someone who has autism (yeah, I put this in twice).