This month is autism awareness month. As someone who works in an industry built around “awareness causes”, I’m fairly familiar with the culture of these groups. They’re all equally devoted to their cause, equally vocal and they all work equally hard to make a difference. But when it comes to Autism Awareness, there’s an added level of acceptance for this condition, something that goes beyond, or bypasses all together, the need for a “cure” so to speak. For many parents and families with children diagnosed with autism, their child or sister or brother is not suffering from a disease, but simply experiencing life differently. It’s about accepting these differences and embracing them, as much as or more than curing it, so to speak.
The awareness ribbons for these groups are a puzzle piece pattern, and I can’t think of a better choice of design for such a group. The design speaks of indivuality and of unique shapes all fitting together towards the whole. You see this design on lapel pins, on keychains, on car bumpers. Families with autistic members are more than ready to share their story and help those who don’t know anyone with autism understand it better.
So this month, take a moment to look around you, and see how many autism awareness ribbons you can spot. And maybe approach someone wearing one of these lapel pins and ask them who they know with autism. Because chances are they’ll be eager to tell you, and you’ll be better off for asking.