So that’s World Autism Awareness Day gone for another year… a month since I shared ‘I Stand Quietly’. Does any of this really make any difference?
Some might think that I just wrote a bit of a weepy poem and then sat back watched the cash roll in, but it was so much more emotionally challenging than I ever would have imagined. I’ve read some emails I can never unread.
I am definitely different now. Forever. For the better on the whole.
Over the last month, my blog has had over 513,000 visits from over 440,000 people across over 100 countries. Here’s the glory shot (I find the twin peaks particularly pleasing considering how many times boobies have been mentioned recently):
Then there’s countless others who have read ‘I Stand Quietly’ on another website like The Huffington Post, I can’t track them, and I think the sharing will continue to trickle through more visitors for a while. I ambitiously hope to have touched at least half a million people all in all…
Many hundreds of them took the time to say they feel differently.
Some of those affected by autism say they feel less alone, I truly hope so. That is a wonderful thing, significantly different to anything I hoped to achieve, and the thing of which I am most proud.
Some who were previously untouched by autism say they have learned something, that they will think and behave differently and that they won’t judge. I won’t be there when they are ‘tested’, I hope they rise to the challenge.
A minority took the time to demonstrate their nastiness and ignorance with suggestions of horrific so called “treatments” like the infamous bleach enemas and, of course, there was the exorcism guy.
I am pleased to have heard from them too… I can get aerated about them for the sake of a blog post as I feel it helps people (who maybe doubted the scale of the challenge still out there) to see that crap like this really happens to parents of autistic kids. But in reality, they don’t bother me: they are way too bonkers to worry about. Poor sods.
I’ve raised £13,665 so far. That’s hilariously more than the £250, then £1,000 target that I had set myself. I feel like that amount of money can really make a difference over the next year.
And then, of course, I got my husband and a number of his chic Londonite advertising workmates into onesies, still waiting to get the final total on the money raised there. His company is going to double it. Fantastic and huge thank yous.
Awareness, wonga and onesies. Three almost alliterative achievements. Plus beautiful Bara Brith and a bombastic boob-print bag, boy oh boy.
And (as yet unmentioned on here but thought about every day) there was the lovely friend from school who drove all the way over to my house with flowers and a hug. Simply the best – thank you – love you for that.
But let’s skip the lyrical bullshit. The percentages are weak, I wouldn’t still be in a marketing job with results like this. Can. Do. Better.
Because there’s those, you know, look the other wayers. Maybe a significant majority who clicked on and off, didn’t read it all the way through, gave up, uninterested, unaffected. Anyone who has worked in online media knows a click doesn’t mean a read doesn’t mean an impact or a reaction…
It’s all of those who didn’t donate, didn’t comment: I can’t stop thinking about them.
AND NO IT’S NOT AN EGO THING.
I could speak for any prejudice, when I say it’s not just the few fanatics and extremists we need to be concerned about, it’s the ones who stay silent.
I am aware that I have absolutely blasted my friends on Facebook about all of this over the last month, and I am dead chuffed for all the support. But if I’m honest, I’ve been left a little obsessed about the ones who over the whole of the last month of shares and statuses have never hit the Like.
OK, maybe ‘I Stand Quietly’ was too OTT. The topic is awkward but I’m otherwise funny as fuck. Conkers and cockatoos? What’s not to Like? You want me to believe you disapprove of the swearing? Up yours.
We’ve trained most reasonably intelligent members of society that discrimination is unacceptable, but what we’ve failed to do is inspire and educate all of them not to discriminate: there’s a significant portion who we’ve just made go quiet. They judge, fear, feel misplaced anger and disgust and keep it inside.
They would rather we just went and did our autism thing somewhere else, please.
Or they still think my daughter is a spoiled brat and I’m a weak hysterical mother. They are just too polite to say.
I’m not just being a cynic, I meet them all the time when I talk about my daughter: if someone is thinking it, you can see the mismatched emotion in their eyes and the involuntary lip curl of disgust/displeasure/disbelief in a smile however hard someone tries to disguise it.
They’re the dangerous ones. Not just for better autism awareness and acceptance, but for any other minority and for society as a whole. They are bringing up the kids that don’t look out for my kid at school. They are voting (in the UK) next month blissfully ignorant of the poor state of CAHMS (if they even know what that stands for), of the lack of training for SENCOs and teachers, of the lack of therapeutic services.
They don’t understand or care about the impact of benefit cuts (or even benefits testing) on those with a hidden disability. They don’t care about the job discrimination, the isolation, the despair… and they are simply lucky that they’ve swerved the A word having an impact on their lives so far.
Then there’s the notable rise of aggressive behaviour against home educating families by certain Local Authorities, overstepping their jurisdiction and in many cases breaking the law, fuelled by misunderstanding and prejudice that we’re all perverts or islamic militants… Actually a significant portion of us are passionate committed parents, desperate to do the best by their intelligent (often gifted and talented) very high functioning ASD kids who’ve been forced out of mainstream schools due to bullying or lack of support and who will equally flounder and fail to achieve their potential in typical broad-based special school provision… (more on that another time).
So a difference has been made but the job sadly isn’t done.
So next for me? Perhaps a little break from being just autism Mum on here. Light refreshment is required. I need a laugh. So expect puerile humour, possibly at my darling husband’s expense, the odd snarky atheist rant, silly dog stories and who knows what else: I’m going to get dirty, naked and happy.
And then, offline, there’s the ongoing challenge of rebuilding my daughter’s self-esteem, courage and sensory resilience so we can get out of the house.
Otherwise, there’ll be no barking at strangers and so I won’t be able pick out those look the other wayers who still need me to give them a big smile and a shiny Birkenstock of autism awareness booted right up their ignorant arse.