April is very-fast approaching, and for some autistic people this means being trapped between wanting to hide from the internet yet wanting to participate at the same time, and giving in to having a peek to observe the situation but then instantly regretting it – why is this? It’s because it’s ‘Autism Awareness’ (Autism Acceptance) week/month/TIME, which can sometimes translate to ‘BEWARE of the misinformation which often floods the internet, some of which is well-intended but which can enforce further stereotyping and doesn’t help… and I end up tangled between the game of wanting to hide in the safety-realms because of frustration, annoyances and exposure anxiety, yet also really wanting to contribute my so-far thoughts due to my interest.
(Picture from Pablo – Scaredy Cat, Season 1 Ep 20 – *Note: the added captions are my own and are in no way affiliated with the show*)
To tackle this (and to make April seem like less of a scary fish on legs), I have decided to contribute to the vast library of online autistic voices, which I’ll be doing through sharing various Pablo moments, to output some of the energy which it gave me. I know that ‘Pablo’ will have lots of things to share too, on their social media sites with their #ThinkDifferently campaign.
If you’re unaware of what ‘Pablo’ is, it is a pre-school TV show by Paper Owl Films (on CBeebies/RTEJr), featuring an autistic five and a half year old, who uses his ‘Book Animal’ friends in his art world to help him figure out difficult or confusing situations. Each Book Animal represents different parts of Pablo, and are voiced by autistic actors, who also contribute stories and story ideas to the show (one of them is me… although I don’t really call myself an ‘actor’, because I would feel like I’m acting if I did, but maybe I could try it one day…). It’s been such an honour to be involved in this show, voicing the character Wren and co-writing some stories – though it’s been so much more than the creative process and the show itself; it has had a massive personal impact on me, and while exposure anxiety has been a big barrier to me in talking about the show as much as I would have liked to, I’m ready to overcome that in order to help share the important messages behind the show, which act towards promoting autism acceptance and understanding around the world.
I feel it is possible to use communication to help people to think differently about autism, from an autistic angle – and there is not just one autistic angle, there are so many differences within the autistic neurotype collective -and within those who do not feel part of any such collective at all – one autistic voice doesn’t speak for all, but if we share our multiple individual angles then we can create some sort of hedron-sculpture knowledge base to communicate through, and people can observe autism as expressed by autistic people.
Whether autistic or not: We all think differently, we all have different perceptions – but we can find so many similarities in the way that we think (and with that, more differences) – we are the same, but different, but the same – and I think we all want understanding and acceptance in some form.
Pablo’s #ThinkDifferently social media campaign this April is all about sharing the ways in which we think, to help people to think differently about autism, and I would love it if other autistic people joined in with this online, by creating, commenting on or by sharing posts – whether there are particular things about autism you wish people thought differently about, or whether you just want to share the way that you think, I’m interested in knowing about your views.