Beyond “Light it Up Blue” — Maybe “Light it up Gold”!

UN: World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, a permanent observance created by the United Nations. Monday, Anna Schnitzer and I attended a presentation on campus by Elizabeth J. “Ibby” Grace on the rhetoric of autism activism. You can find notes, pictures, and livetweets from the event in this Storify.

Autistic Activism in an Age of the Blues:

In the event, part of what we learned was that the Light It Up Blue campaign for autism awareness, which presents itself upon first glance as if they are representing the UN in this, is actually a corporate project sponsored by the controversial organization Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks: Light It Up Blue

Autism Speaks does fund a great deal of interesting research, so I’m not going to touch on why they are considered so controversial (at least not in this post!). It was interesting to learn more from Ibby Grace about other ways to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day and support autism acceptance and the ASD community. Here are some she mentioned. Tone it Down Taupe seemed to be her favorite, but since we are UM, I figured if we aren’t going blue, maybe gold is another good choice! There are also a few others that appeared while I was searching.

WAAD: Tone it down taupe

Tone It Down Taupe (for Autism Acceptance):
TIDT on Facebook:

WAAD: Light it up Gold

Light it up Gold (from AU for Autistic Union):

WAAD: Light it up Red

Light It Up Red:

There are so MANY images of the ribbon with the puzzle or the rainbow puzzle ribbon, that I can’t possibly point to them all. Here is one from Wikipedia.

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Meanwhile, Ibby Grace had a great point about diversity and acceptance in considering the question of autism awareness and acceptance.


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