Thursday, February 20, 2014

Autism Answer: Know Your Audience (clue: it's the world!)

*Author's Note: I wrote this a few years ago, when blue was a consistently common color in autism literature. I've noticed that it's not as true anymore. It seems we've gotten much more colorful with autism banners and such. I like colors!!

Shay was sprawled on the ground messing with his electric train. I was cooking supper nearby and we were enjoying some silent together time. Suddenly, Shay looked up at me. 

Shay: Remember how my favorite color has always been blue?
Me: Of course sweetie.
Shay: Do you think it has something to do with my autism?
Me: I don't think so. I don't see why it would. (I was, however, thinking about the trains he's so obsessed with, but anyway....)
Shay: I was just wondering because lots of the autism stuff I see is blue.

It was a nice little reminder to always keep in mind that the world is our audience. Not just parents, kids, adult autistics, verbal special needs, black, gay, scared of spiders or all of the above... but everyone! I've got nothing against the color blue for autism--actually, it's supposed to be calming which is lovely!--but it was a nice little reminder that anything I say should be something I'm comfortable with no matter whose eyes or ears they reach. Intentional or not!

Declyn was peeking in the fridge, looking for a snack. I asked him if he wanted to bake some Gingerbread with me.

Declyn: Ooooohhhh ya! You and me make the best gingerbread. And it's organic!
Me: Okay, we'll make it but only if you promise to eat most of it. I don't want to get any fatter. Your dad might stop loving me!
Declyn: Okay, I'll eat it all!!
Me: (realizing my mistake) No way! I was just kidding, I want half of it!! Your dad loves me because of who I am, not because of how much space I take up! I'm going to make coffee, it'll go good with my half of the gingerbread.

Not only is it important to remember that our audience is the world, and that we are teaching an attitude with our message, but also to be comfortable seeing our mistakes and changing direction. We are all guilty of stereotyping, making judgments, and offering biased, uneducated opinions. That's okay, as long as we are also guilty of changing our minds, and willingly learning from our lives and the lives of others, so we can see when and where we've had our "oops" moments!

Without question, our lives are much more interesting and inspiring when we offer "deleted scenes" and "bloopers" to our audience!

Have a wonderful, say what you're happy with the world hearing, kind of day!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers