Springingtiger's Blog

Autism Awareness: The End of The Month

So Autism Awareness Month is over and what has it done? The Autism Community has been blogging fervently for thirty days, parents have been blogging about their experiences, and so have autistics some on their own blogs and some as guests of blogs like The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. So many words written by so many people, but have they made any difference? Have all those words changed anyone’s mind? Has anyone outside the Autism Community noticed all those words, did anyone hear them, did anyone listen?

I know, personally, that I have made new contacts over the month, and I’m delighted that some of old posts have found a new audience. From feedback I have received, I know that some people have found my words useful but the feedback is largely from other autistics or their families. I am glad that we are supporting each other, and it is important that we continue to do so, and not just for one month but for all twelve for as many years as we need each other, but I wonder how much impact we are making on the wider community.

In fact we know we are reaching a wider community, Autism Awareness Month does get media coverage, and it is marked by documentaries like Louis Theroux’ Tough Love. More importantly we have a presence in the mainstream media, autistic characters are being written into more and more television dramas and the occasional comedy, autistic characters feature in mainstream movies from Hollywood to Bollywood. Even more importantly governments are beginning to notice us, some American states are specifically recognising Autism in healthcare provision, Scotland now has a national Autism Strategy with over thirteen million pounds of government funding. In all honesty the gains so far made, however magnificent, are small compared to the overall needs of the autism community, but they are a start for which we should be grateful. The campaigners who have won these gains should be proud, and we should be proud of them.

No one knows for sure who was the first autistic, but it is fifty years since the National Autistic Society was founded and in that time understanding of autism has advanced greatly and gains have been made, we still have a long way to go. I don’t know how much of a difference Autism Awareness Month makes, but I know we have not come so far that we can afford to stop now. Even if the main value of Autism Awareness Month is that it gives us strength to carry on, then it is valuable. I hope Autism Awareness Month spreads awareness of Autism to a wider community, but whatever I have enjoyed it. I have made new friends, found new blogs to read, learned new things, and from reading the posts people have shared, my respect for autistics and their families is greater than ever. Thank you everyone who made this month so special with your posts, your fund raisers, media interviews, your walks, your participation. Thank you, you make my world a better place!


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