Editor’s note: The Aspergian/NeuroClastic team is working with Wolf Traverso and strategizing on how to best prepare our community for April 1 & 2. We would love to hear from the autistic community what your hopes, ideas, reservations, and strategies are, and we are working on creating a plan that will maximize safety and quality for any autistics participating, ensure that the narrative around autism is one written by actual autistics, and provide the community with ideas, organizing tips, resources, strategies, plans, and support in April. Please read this article as the author’s tentative plan and stay tuned for updated news and plans.
As I have learned more and more about my autistic identity (diagnosed 3 years ago, at age 40), there are themes I have discovered in our community.
There are many voices. Many leaders. Many pages. Many blogs. So many of us out there. But, what I have yet to see, is unification and a designated means of solidarity.
That is the motivation for these dates. I have had push back on the selection of April Fool’s Day, and for good reason. However, after research, dialog with other leaders and advocates, feedback, etc… I stand by the importance, if not the URGENCY of using April 1st as a day to counter the dominant culture–
The History of April Fools’ Day
April Fools’ Day was traced back by historians to the middle ages. There was a major calendar shift when the current calendar was adopted. Some people in remote villages didn’t get the memo, so to speak, and still celebrated the wrong New Year date.
The villagers were made fun of, and it caught on. By historical context, April Fools’ day was always a tradition of power dynamics where the ones who had least access to information and social communication were made into the “joke.”
Imagine that. You’re autistic, possibly, and due to isolation or just not quite understanding, the calendar shifts, schedules change, you missed the memo. Then you get made fun of it. Being out of the loop is something that autistic people can generally relate to.
Now, April Fools’ Day has become a global day of pranks, hoaxes, and more. I hate this day. I wish I could stay home and stay offline all day. I have been hoaxed terribly. I stress the entire day. I can’t tell what’s true online and what’s not. I can’t tell what’s true on Facebook and what’s not.
Not to mention, there are other groups that despise this day and/or some of the pranks it has produced. For example, women who have ever experience miscarriage or the loss of an infant or who struggle with fertility issues. The frequent, “I’m pregnant… APRIL FOOLS!!!”, hurts more than just me.
Big businesses even waste marketing dollars and time on their own pranks. Why? What is the purpose in wasting money to fool people? I understand many enjoy the experience of feeling fooled, and the relief of discovering the truth. I don’t. I hate it.
April itself is hard on autistic people, too. It’s the month designated for autism awareness, and historically, that’s been a month full of calls for cures. Well-meaning non-autistic people rally to support autistic people with symbols and by supporting charities that most of us feel– at best– misrepresent us as broken or infantilized, and at worst see us as something that needs to be “solved” or erased.
And, for years, the autistic community has attempted to re-educate the public with a message of neurodiversity. Despite their efforts, the dominant narrative remains that autistic people are a charity case deserving of pity. Inherently, that kind of philosophy echoes the same power structure that leaves autistic people as the “fools” who are not included in the calendar that is supposed to center them.
A Day of Kindness — Go #RedInstead — April 1, 2020
How about we reclaim this date for ourselves? The autistic community has already established that as a counter to the #LightItUpBlue narrative pushed by Autism Speaks, they choose to use #RedInstead. Instead of the puzzle piece that was meant to indicate something was “missing,” we use the infinity symbol for ourselves.
How about we encourage big businesses to spend their time and marketing dollars on our efforts? How about we use April 1, 2020, to make a pledge that instead of pranking others, we will practice acts of kindness? How about we band together as a community and demonstrate how integral we are to society and how much we contribute to the Greater Good?
How about we take to the virtual streets and tell the world how many of us there are? We can’t coordinate a massive march like other civil rights movements. We have to do it online. If we all join in, we will be a force to be reckoned with.
So on April 1, 2020, we are asking autistics, neurodivergents, and allies to do something #RedInstead. Use your talents, resources, skills, insights, time, words–whatever capital you have to do something positive: write someone a song, make a gift or meal for someone, donate to an autistic-led organization, volunteer your time, write something brave and unapologetic, say a kind word, do a good deed.
And then, in solidarity, use your platform online to boost other #RedInstead moments.
Those who are irritated we chose their funny day will be forced to speak with us about why we disrupted their fun. Why they need to be more sensitive to literal thinkers like me and many other autistics.
Autism Awareness Day — #OurGoldenMoment — April 2, 2020
The second day of April is designated globally as “Autism Awareness Day,” but autistics have pushed the narrative for years away from “awareness” and towards “acceptance.” You may have noticed the abbreviation of the chemical element for gold, Âû, appear in people’s profiles. Many autistics use that, the color gold, and the infinity symbol to self-identify.
This year, let’s take it a step further. Let’s make April 2, 2020, a safe day for autistics and other neurodivergent people (ADHD, dyslexic, dyspraxic, etc.) to come out and be heard.
Yes, Autistics need to lead this movement, much like the Gay community did for Lesbian, Trans, Bi, and Queer communities. We are all one, Autistic and other forms of Neurodiversity, but Autistics are the ones most likely to be killed or commit suicide for our identity. We suffer the most oppression and struggle against the deepest ableism, so we must lead from the front.
If ANYONE is bullied on that day, they need only tag #OGMassist, and the rest of us autistics, neurodivergents, and allies can come to their aid.
It’s time to stand together, please. Every voice will be heard if we stand on the cliff and howl together. Even our non-speaking community members will be heard in this format.
If you want to join us, click “join us” on this website: www.ourgoldenmoment.com
As the day approaches, shareable content will be posted in the form of coming out statements, (or, see below, alliance statements). Or write your own.
You can find promotional graphics for use here: https://www.ourgoldenmoment.com/images/
If you’re an ally, join us. If you’re autistic, join us. If you’re any form of neurodivergent, join us. No great change happened without some form of disruption. This is our chance.
And we’ll keep April as autistic acceptance month over autism awareness month, choosing to tag #AutisticGold and #RedInstead. It will be a month of celebrating autistic pride, platforming autistic perspectives, and claiming the narrative about the autistic experience for ourselves.
I hope to see all of you there!
The Autistic Wolf
Editor’s Note: NeuroClastic, Inc. is sponsoring the Our Golden Moment event. To make a tax-deductible donation for promotion of this event, click here.