Autistic Pride 2022 – June 18th
by Susan Witterick, Director and Founder of DBX Acoustics
Today (June 18th) is Autistic pride day. The celebration is modelled on the gay pride movement and most importantly, it is a day for and led by autistic people – it is not intended to be a day for charities or organisations to promote themselves.
Autistic people have always been an important part of human culture. Autism is a form of neurodiversity, and as with all forms of neurodiversity, most of the challenges that autistic people face come from other people’s attitudes about autism and a lack of supports and accommodations. Today is an opportunity for the autistic community to self-advocate, and to remind people that autism is not always a disability, and is not an illness which needs to be treated or cured. Rather, it’s time to celebrate difference and individuality.
Joseph Redford, an organiser for Autistic Pride at London's Hyde Park, stated in a speech that the concept of autistic pride is not about a single day or event:
For individuals, Autistic Pride doesn’t necessarily need to take the form of public events. The organiser of Inverness Autistic Pride, Kabie Brook, told me that she celebrated Autistic Pride day by taking a walk in the park with her family. And enjoying herself. Openly stimming, or vocalising or expressing yourself in your own body language is an example of Autistic Pride in Action. Standing up and passionately defending your own truth, regardless of convention or tone, or social dynamics even if it goes completely against the grain, or others consider it minor or pedantic, is Autistic Pride in Action. Seeking knowledge according to your own logic is Autistic Pride in Action. Completely breaking social rules, if it doesn't cause harm, is Autistic Pride in Action. Demanding to be treated with the same respect and dignity as others is Autistic Pride in Action. Walking away from something if you can't handle it is Autistic Pride in Action.
Many autistic people are adept at ‘masking’ their true selves to try to appear more normal and fit in. It can be very effective, but it is also exhausting. This autistic pride day is a chance for us to celebrate who we really are – ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘wrong’.