No, you're not getting an April Fools post, not unless I get inspired today, and it will be well marked as such at the top if that happens. April is Autism Awareness Month as celebrated by many groups, Autism Acceptance Month as celebrated by Paula, ASAN, TPGA, and large swaths of the Autistic Community, and Autistic Awesomeness Month as called by one Joe Martin at Rhode Island College's Anchor. And that means that the world will be full of autism things, ranging from great to terrible. If the originator of a thing is Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue, or similar, bet on terrible. You're going to want to remember those red flags I listed out a while back, because there is a lot of bad stuff out there.
But here- here is a list of things you can do that will actually help someone.
- An autistic person in the Philippines is trying to raise the money to present at an autism congress. He only needs about $500 US. Exchange rates are in our favor here, if you're from any of the countries most of my readership comes from. Help him out here, and spread the word.
- TW: murder of disabled people: A gay autistic teen was lit on fire on his 18th birthday. The sentencing judge described it as a harmless prank gone wrong. There is a petition demanding an apology and that the judge commit to protecting disabled LGBT youth here.
- I'm just going to put it out there that every petition I have in the sidebar right now is current and relevant. Go sign them, all of them.
- Amanda Baggs, a nonspeaking autistic disability rights activist, is in the hospital. They started out trying to talk her out of getting a life saving procedure (yes, really.) Since there has been more attention on the hospital about this from things like calling Not Dead Yet and other disability activists spreading this around, they have been better. However, this could change the instant the hospital thinks we aren't paying attention. Amanda is youneedacat on Tumblr and webmuskie is her power of attorney- when things happen, one of them would post it. The hospital phone number is 802-847-0000, and they have online contact forms here, here, and here.
- Educate people on the very real issues with Autism Speaks. There are lots of resources around for this, including my "Problem with Autism Speaks" tag, the "Autism Speaks, I Want To Say" flash blog, and The Caffeinated Autistic's post about Autism Speaks, which includes links both to other resources and to other good organizations. And remember- Light it UP Blue is an Autism Speaks campaign, so if you see someone doing that, they're one of the ones who needs to be educated.
- Check out some of the Autism Acceptance efforts. There's Autism Acceptance Day, autismacceptancemonth.com, Thinking Person's Guide To Autism's events... lots of things, and then we have Tone it down Taupe, Shut it up Grey, Light it up BOO, and B-WEAR as counters to Light it UP Blue.
- Because PATTERNS! is selling prints, with 25% of the proceeds of Autism Acceptance prints sold in April and 10% of the proceeds of all other prints sold in April and Autism Acceptance prints sold after April being donated to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Remember, Because PATTERNS! is me, so the other 75% goes into the pocket of an autistic person too. (Any design that is square in shape can be a print, $25 for an 8x10 with the design a 7x7 square, a number and artist signature at the bottom, and Autism Acceptance captions on relevant designs by default and other designs by request, $15 for a similar 4x6 print, design at 4x4 square. A custom caption is an additional $5.) There will be a storefront, or you can use my PayPal account of email@example.com with your shipping address, what design you want, and which size print you want in the note.
- Think Geek is selling Neurodiversity T-shirts again, and a portion of the proceeds is going to go to ASAN, an autism organization that actually does useful things.
- CafePress let people vote on which autism organizations would get money from the autism awareness month things. Autism Speaks and ASAN will both be getting 5% each, which is better than most (but not all) autism awareness things in that not all of the money goes to Autism Speaks. Because PATTERNS does have an Autism Acceptance section on CafePress, by the way.
- Backstage Humor is aiming to be a neurodiversity-friendly entertainment site, and they will be raising start-up funds. I'll update here with a link as soon as it's up.
- If you want to give money directly to a group, my recommendations would be Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Autism Women's Network, or Doug Flutie. (Yes, Doug Flutie uses fear rhetoric, but the money that goes to them actually does good things, so I'm willing to deal with them.)
- Go find things that other autistic people want you to do to help them and do them.
- Assume that any autistic people in your life understand the things you say about them in front of them, and take the time to listen to what they tell you, even if it takes time and work.
- Spread this list around so that other people can see a list of things that are actually helpful.