Yay yay, it’s Autistic Pride Day! Every June 18th, autistic people around the world celebrate a day that is just for us. By autistic, for autistics. There’s a grassroots movement of autistic people that organise local events for autistic people to all get together and just be in one place. There’s no pressure to socialise if you don’t want to, all these events are planned by autistic people to meet our needs.
This year in the UK the number of Autistic Pride events has more than doubled, and I hope next year we’ll see even more. I even organised my first Autistic Pride event this year and it went really well. We had a lovely mix of autistic adults and parents who brought their autistic children, and everyone chatted to each other and got along and it was a happy event. THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SEE MORE OF; everybody working together to make our local community a happier, more supportive place for autistic people of all ages.
I made some new autistic friends, met some online autistic friends that are real people and not just in the computer, and plenty of families turned up with their autistic kids. It was fabulous to meet so many parents who totally get it, and the next generation of autistic kids who were brilliant and funny and happy and make me so optimistic for the future. I’m proud of what I organised and it was worth it even though I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck right now.
Unfortunately this year some charities have jumped on the bandwagon without really understanding what Autistic Pride is all about. Events that are not organised by autistic people and don’t centre the needs of autistic people are NOT Autistic Pride events. They are awareness events and belong in April. You guys literally have a whole month to yourselves; don’t be nicking our one day.
Also if you are pushing harmful, compliance-based therapies like ABA, don’t you DARE co-opt Autistic Pride Day to promote your own charity and events. DON’T DO IT. That’s not what Autistic Pride is about at all. Just bloody stop. Fucking hell.
Anyway, despite that dark moment I feel like every year the Autistic community grows not just in numbers but in strength and confidence and enthusiasm. We’re really making progress in getting ourselves heard. Well done to you all for doing whatever you’ve done, whether it’s organising an event or just sharing it on social media.
We should be proud.