On November 1, there is an Autism awareness campaign called Communitcation Shutdown, whereas people are encouraged to stay off Twitter and Facebook for the day in order to promote an awareness of the communication difficulties that Autistics face.
A person is supposed to donate in order to get the charity app. The app doesn't really do anything, other than post a little image on your picture to say you're participating. Whether or not you stay off Twitter and Facebook is entirely up to you.
And this is supposed to help simulate the communication difficulties that Autistic people face.
I'm sorry, but no. Just no.
Yes, I know Temple Grandin supports this campaign, and I appreciate their creative approach to this, but I don't think that this gives the NT population a complete experience on the communication issues we face.
Why? Because it relies on the assumption that everyone participating uses Twitter and Facebook to communicate. While I realize that these sites make communication easier, it is not the only way in which NTs can communicate online, and thus subvert the entire exercise of the campaign.
I was recently asked by a person on Twitter to participate, and I responded that there wasn't much of a point, since I am Autistic, and do not require to learn about difficulties that I myself face in communicating. I pointed out to this person that Twitter and Facebook are two of the sites that actually allow Autistics to communicate and connect with others in the community, so I will not be disappearing from the Internet, as it is my lifeline. I also remarked that this is a flawed simulation, since a non-Autistic person still have the capability to text on their phones, and speak verbally, and so would not be totally comprehending the true reality of Autistic disability.
The question now becomes, what would be a better method for Communication Shutdown that would have the most impact for those involved?
Okay, for the NTs participating: do a total communication shutdown. Go all the way. Turn off your cell phones, log out of your instant messengers and email, unplug your home phone*, cover your mouth with a piece of cloth and don't say a word. Don't text. Don't type. Don't write. Don't speak.
If you can help it, turn off your Internet.
Completely and utterly disconnect yourself from any form of typical communication.
I understand that there will be some who can't resist at least signing in and watching feeds go by. For those, just watch.
As for my fellow Autistics, as the NTs disconnect and fall silent, let's speak.
Let us use this day to flood every social networking site we know with our accounts, our experiences, what it feels like to Autistic.
Every sensory pain, every communication frustration, every account of being bullied, every wondrous moment, every peaceful calm, every instant of understanding and joy.
Let them hear our voices and take back the Autism community.
Let us speak.
Let us tell you want it's like to be us.
And that, would be true Autism Awareness.
*except in the case of an emergency. Don't want you to risk your life, eh.