The Problem with “Light it Up Blue”

Before we get to this week’s blog post, I’d like to talk about my previous post, in which I said I wanted to help raise money for CAMH’s One Brave Night for Mental Health challenge. In that blog post, I pledged to raise $300 by April 7, 2017, and I asked all of you reading my blog to help me out by sharing my post and making a donation if you were able to contribute. However, instead of taking three weeks to campaign and spread news about the challenge and slowly raise the money during that time, it only took about five hours before we’d raised $300 for mental health.

Thank you. Thanks to everyone who shared my blog post with others on social media and donated to my campaign. I couldn’t be more grateful to all of you.

As of today, we have raised $605, which is much more than I ever could have anticipated. We still have just less than a week before the campaign ends, so I would love it if you could continue to help out by sharing my post and donating if you haven’t already done so. The link to my personal campaign page can be found here, and my previous post explaining my reasons for joining the challenge can be found on this blog. Again, thank you all so much for your help so far!

Okay, now on to today’s blog post.

Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day, which coincides with the infamous Autism Speaks initiative known as “Light it Up Blue”. It is said that the purpose of Light it Up Blue is to raise awareness about autism, which can be done through wearing blue and sharing posts about the campaign on social media. While on the surface, this doesn’t seem like a terrible thing, there is definitely a problem with Light it Up Blue. And more importantly, there are many problems with the organization known as Autism Speaks.

I’ve been spent most of my day at my desk, trying to articulate why I am so strongly against Autism Speaks. As the sister of two wonderful autistic men, autism acceptance is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. However, that is the reason I shouldn’t be the one writing about this. While I may have autistic siblings, I myself am not autistic. I don’t have the authority to speak for or on behalf of autistic people, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do so.

Instead, I’ve decided to list several articles, all of which are written by autistic people. These articles discuss the many problems with Autism Speaks, including the way they run their company, the famous puzzle piece icon that has come to be associated with autism, the issue with people-first language, and most importantly, the incredibly harmful way that they view autistic people as needing to be “cured”. I’ve also included the link to a website called Autism Acceptance Month, which is run by autistic people who are part of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).

As allies, this is what we can do to support autistic people and help bring about greater understanding and acceptance. We can listen to what autistic people have to say and what they feel about “Autism Awareness Month”, instead of listening to and blindly trusting a popular organization that many autistic people feel does not have their best interests at heart.

Here are the articles I’d recommend you read if you want to hear more about the problems with Autism $peaks and Light it Up Blue in detail from autistic people themselves:

  1. What’s Wrong with Autism Speaks? A Collection of Resources
  2. Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue: How to Support Autistic People This April
  3. 5 Shocking Reasons NOT to Light it Up Blue for Autism Day
  4. Autism Acceptance Month
  5. Autistic Self Advocacy Network

I hope you all find these articles helpful! Thanks for reading.

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