This is a tricky one to talk about. I believe strongly that greater visibility is one of the keys to acceptance. I have been openly queer most of my life and openly autistic since I found the name to describe my neurological differences. I also recognize that there is a load of privilege in this. There are people for whom passing as non-autistic is never a choice. There are also those who pass in order to protect their jobs, families, or even their lives. It is not for me to decide that everyone should be “out.” I do believe that changes in societal attitudes will emerge from the recognition that we are here in the families, communities, and workplaces alongside the puzzle wearing crusaders. I do believe that it becomes more difficult for people to unthinkingly proclaim that autism should be eradicated when faced with the reality that this person would not exist in such a world.
Think of this as less of a challenge, then, more of an invitation. Be autistic in public. Go somewhere and refuse to suppress your own natural expressions. Flap, pace, rock, bounce, squawk. Repeat things. Take an animatronic parrot to lunch. Be yourself.
If you are not autistic, think about the things you do that soothe you. Do you twist your hair? Click your pen? Tap your foot? Talk about the weather? Why have you not been shamed for these things or been told or trained not to do them?
Also, if you are not autistic, go out with people who are. Don’t correct them when they say or do something autistic. Observe how that feels, and how other people around you respond.
Come back here and tell me your story. You have the rest of April to complete this challenge…er…invitation. If it is not something you are able to do, you can participate by explaining why it isn't possible. What would you need in order to feel safe? And if this is something you already do every day, of course that counts too. Just leave your comment to be included.