April 29, 2013

At The Lower End of the "Awareness" Spectrum

Are you telling me because you lost them?

Now that's just creepy

Are you? That's great! I'm the embarrassed proud owner of a really stupid cat! See, it says so on my t-shirt too.

Do you need to know this? Does it make you think better of me? Does it spark any sort of feeling in you that perhaps you should read up more about stupid cats? Or does it make you think "why the fuck are you advertising your stupid cat?"

It's the end of Autism Awareness Month, and there seems to have been something akin to a "movement" going on.  It involves announcing - via a t-shirt or bumper sticker - the fact that you are in some way connected with a child on the spectrum.  This movement seems to have confused "advertising" with the concept of "raising awareness".  I'm all for raising awareness about important issues: autism, palm oil, Kim Kardhasian's arse.  There are a whole shitload of misconceptions in society about what autism is, how it affects people, what it "looks like", whether all people with autism are like Rain Man.  Those misconceptions must be changed, so what one needs to be doing is educating people.  Giving them concrete information. Facts. Sound bites.

T-shirts, coffee cups, bumper stickers and pins on Pinterest proclaiming that you happen to know someone with autism does about as much for the cause as me wearing a t-shirt saying "I love polar bears" when I want people to stop being dicks about whether global warming is happening or not.*

So no, I don't need to know that you're a proud parent of someone with autism, in the same way as I don't need to know you are the proud parent of someone gay or on the Honour Roll or the winner of the National Hotdog Eating Competition.  It's good that you're proud. But I don't need to know about it.

If you want to actually do something to raise awareness and educate people, write an article for your local newspaper. Get involved in an autism activist group. Talk to the kids at the school your child goes to, or any school for that matter.  Go on facebook and twitter and rant to the world. Write your own blog. Write to your government and ask why their education campaigns are so pitiful, why the funding is a disgrace and why you cant get your kid in to see an OT for almost a year.

But ffs stop with the ridiculous slogans. All they do is make the dickhead in Aisle 7 (to whom these slogans are generally aimed) think "what the fuck do I care about you or your kid?" and ensure that neither he nor those like him will give a damn about the real message.

*It is real. Stop being a dick.

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