Today is “Autism Awareness Day,” the day people change their profile pictures to puzzle pieces or blue light bulbs to “raise awareness,” but mostly because it makes these people feel good about themselves. Congratulations, you’re my new hero.
I don’t need people to be “aware” of me. Go through my archives, people are aware enough of me as it is. I want people to ACCEPT me not as some cripple they can abuse but AS me. In fact, I try to be both aware of and accepting of the people around me.
For instance, I saw Zootopia yesterday – a movie about accepting people’s differences – and there was a hot boy figuratively speaking – and probably literally too as it was almost 90 degrees outside – in his late-20s flailing manically in his wheelchair outside the theater in Disney Springs and while he wasn’t “talking” per se, he was making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out something to say to him, he and his family were gone. In other words, this was Epcot all over again.
The movie let out at 4:35pm. Fortunately, the AMC is on the Westside “neighborhood” so it was a relatively simple walk back to the Lynx stop at the edge of the parking lot. I wasn’t finished with my churro when the bus arrived, so I was hungry when I got off at the “transfer stop” at SeaWorld. Restaurants in the immediate area are a tad scarce, so I went back to the room to see what was in my fridge, sighed and headed back out in the wilds.
I was seated a few minutes after arriving at the restaurant, and my hot red headed server spoke with a slow, flat voice. I wasn’t sure if he was flirting with me or just bored…or maybe he was just unemotional and trying very hard to enunciate each word. I did hear him try to make a joke with some Dutch tourists at the table behind me, but it sounded more forced than funny and I’m guessing he knew that as he apologized awkwardly and rushed off.
The next time I saw him was when he delivered my entrée, it wasn’t his fault that said entrée was bland and lukewarm, but he was attentive and though his voice remained stoic, he seemed genuinely sorry when he came back to tell me they were out of the pie I ordered for dessert. Maybe it was a suggestive sell, but when I gave him my “second choice,” his face lit up as he said that was favorite item on the menu (tbf, he didn’t do it with my first choice). Unlike previous visits, said pie was warm and soft (maybe it was just because of the hot ginger delivering it) with the only cold aspect of it being the special dessert spoon he carefully laid on top of my napkin.
I’m not implying anything untoward about either of the aforementioned individuals, I’m just saying I was aware of and chose to accept them. That’s why I’m not posting those silly light bulbs or puzzle pieces. The former implies I should be sad about something… or are they saying that this “awareness” is only a special limited time engagement before we go marching back into our little storage pods where the rest of society doesn’t have to think about us for another year? Which is the reason I dislike the puzzle piece campaign too: it implies I’m “incomplete” and since the purpose of said campaign is to raise money for a cure that will make society accept me.
The problem is, the word “cure” implies that there is something “wrong” with Autistic people that needs curing (we’ve presumably already been vaccinated) …. unless they mean that we’re raw meat that needs to rubbed down with salt to preserve our flavor. Why would you do that, when sodium-peroxide (better known as bleach) presumably works much better – particularly since you don’t have to worry about “preserving” someone after they’ve been murdered cremated. It’s not like she had a “future” anyway, but, at least, you can give the remains to another family to give to their kids: after all it can’t possibly be any more harmful to them some “evil” life-saving vaccine.
Basically, I don’t want mere “awareness” – I just want ACCEPTANCE. Period. I’m not broken, sick or “missing a few pieces.” I am me, and I’m okay with that. The question is: are you?