Reasons to Wear #RedInstead on April 2nd
If you want to show solidarity or support of individuals on the spectrum on World Autism Day, don’t “light it up blue,” wear #RedInstead. Why? The simplest reason is because that’s what #ActuallyAutistic people are asking you to do. Here is why they are trying to change the symbolism of autism advocacy:
- ‘Light it up Blue’ is a slogan and advocacy symbol used by Autism Speaks, an organization notoriously condemned by Autistic adults due to their historical emphasis on a cure, the disproportionate funds allocated to research and marketing vs. helping autistic individuals and their families throughout their lifespans, and it’s lack of autistic leadership.
- Blue is typically understood to be a symbol of loss, grief, and despair. Not surprisingly, many autistics prefer to be associated with a color that symbolizes fire, passion, and heart.
- Some Autistic adults point out that the color blue perpetuates the stereotype that boys are much more likely to be on the spectrum. There is much debate about the validity of these statistics since the diagnostic criteria may have been written to fit with male behavior, and girls may be more “successful” at masking Autistic symptoms.
- Autism awareness isn’t really necessary anymore. Sometimes neurotypical advocacy efforts end up being viewed by the Autistic community as parents looking to wear a badge for knowing someone with autism. Most people already know Autism exists. Autism Acceptance…now that’s something to advocate for. That’s what #RedInstead represents.
Imagine someone wearing a blue puzzle piece t-shirt on World Autism Day. Maybe someone recognizes the symbol and asks that person, “Do you know someone with autism?” Maybe the conversation launches into something about how the person has a child on the spectrum, how they have endured all sorts of therapies and diets, and how life is hard, but they’ll do anything for their child.
Imagine someone else wearing a #RedInstead t-shirt on World Autism Day. How might that conversation go? I can imagine something like:
“What does #RedInstead mean?”
“It’s in support of the Autistic community. Today is World Autism Day.”
“Oh! I thought blue represented autism?”
“Actually blue is a color that was originally chosen by non-autistic people to represent autism. Many people from the Autistic community actually prefer to wear red today, in an effort to support autism Acceptance, rather than mere awareness.”
Perhaps the conversation continues to discuss neurodiversity or refer the NT to the Autism Acceptance Month website for further reading. The point is that #RedInstead and autism acceptance is something worth advocating for. And any NT advocacy efforts along these lines call attention to the Autistic community and their desires rather than emphasizing the parent’s narrative.